The skies were clear. The sun was shining. A friend and I started down the mountain. Minutes later, black clouds blotted out the sun. The temperature fell. It began to hail—large hard balls of ice that pummeled our heads and hands and faces. Soon, along with the hail came drenching rain that quickly filled the arroyos and trail with gushing, rushing, water, making it impossible to make our way down the trail. We were shocked that weather could change so dramatically.
We put on our rain gear and stared at the once familiar landscape now barely recognizable. All we knew for sure was that we had to bushwhack our way down on the highest ground we could find. She pointed out what looked like a way—it was—for a minute or two before a wall of rocks blocked our way.
I saw an opening in the trees and suggested we head that way. That also worked for a while but we soon came to an arroyo with water moving so fast and deep we were afraid to cross it.
With the rain and hail unrelenting, we continued exploring ways to get down. I’d been in a similar situation a few weeks earlier and the person I was with kept yelling at me, as if the weather were my fault and that I should know a clear way down, even though the trail and arroyos were rampaging waters, and she was the one who’d suggested the hike. I was grateful that this time the person I was with remained calm. Like me, she recognized the only way to get back to the car was for both of us to try to figure out a possible path.
It was increasingly difficult to find our way as every little indentation in the earth was filled with branches and rocks pushed on by torrential water. What helped is that we were willing to try each other’s suggestions with no judgment when they didn’t work.
We began to commiserate with each other. The hail hurt. The rain made it difficult to see. We were cold. Water was seeping down our necks and socks even though our boots were waterproof. What normally would have taken us about an hour to get down, now seemed like an endless trek.
Cold and wet, we kept working our way through brush, over rocks, under barbed wire fences. We were hiking in unknown terrain. One thing we knew, we had to go down, not up. Eventually we came to a big arroyo normally easy to walk in. Now there was no way we could cross what looked like a wide roiling river filled with debris.
Fortunately, there was a bridge that crossed the arroyo, but it led to a private house. We trespassed until we came to the road that led to the parking lot. We walked to the car, drenched, freezing, exhausted, and grateful that the two of us, together, managed to find our way. Two heads were definitely better than one.
Have you been part of a group that experienced an unexpected event, requiring a resourceful solution? What was that like for you?
Life tales from a woman different living in The City Different.