From Half Dome to Mount Baldy to Mount Whitney and beyond, this Shoestring Warrior is on a roll, completing the 52 Hike Challenge and the Six Pack of Peaks! Meet Shoestring Warrior and accountant Tracey Williams.
Two years ago, I discovered the 52 Hike Challenge and since then, hiking has become a very important, rewarding, and major ongoing part of my life.
Tracey has hiked at all hours of the day and night and recently climbed the coveted Half Dome and hiked The Wave (both require lottery-based permits). Keep reading to learn more about her adventures and to find out which hike has proven to be the most challenging thus far!
San Diego, CA
Dana Point, CA
What are your passions outside of work?
Lately, it has all been about hiking and camping adventures; I am obsessed!
Tell us about yourself!
I am a Southern CA native, 53, married, with two grown sons (23 and 21) and a mini-Labradoodle (11). I am a “retired” accountant and former soccer mom (17 years!) and enjoy spending time with family and friends. Two years ago, I discovered the 52 Hike Challenge and since then, hiking has become a very important, rewarding, and major ongoing part of my life.
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Beginner! Which was one of the reasons I wanted to do an event with Shoestring Adventures. I have car camped and backpacked several times each now, all within the last year! I love it! Still consider myself a beginner.
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
I have always loved the outdoors. I grew up in San Diego, had horses, and was a beach girl. I even took my books to the beach to study after school (and we didn’t live near the beach!). We didn’t go to the mountains often as a kid, but when we did, I always felt an instant warm and fuzzy familiar feeling, like it was home.
Funniest outdoor experience/mishap?
I was hiking Mount Whitney and stopped at Trail Camp for a break, refill water, etc. Before starting up the 99 switchbacks, I needed to (ahem) hide behind a rock. Due to the way I have to carry my hydration bladder, I wasn’t able to close my backpack all the way at the top. As I was (ahem) behind a rock, a marmot went up to my backpack, which was several feet away from me, and pulled my food bag out and was running away with it! I was yelling, “wait, no! Hey!” as I was trying to scramble to catch him/her and pull up my pants at the same time. LOL! (I did get it back)
Tell us about the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge and your motivation for doing it!
I found the So Cal Hiker first, before 52 Hike Challenge. I remember seeing the info for Six Pack of Peaks and thinking “oh no way, that is way out of my league!” Jump ahead to summer 2016, when I wanted to get away from the heat and the crowds, and suddenly found myself on San Jacinto, then two days later, Cucamonga Peak and thought, “why not?” The next thing I knew I was saying, “well, I am basically training for Mount Whitney, so I will try that too!” I was motivated to finish the Six Pack to be prepared for Mount Whitney, although I didn’t complete the 2016 Challenge until a month after summiting Whitney. I have since completed the challenge in 2017, the highlight being summiting San Gorgonio for sunrise. Priceless.
What Shoestring Adventures have you been on and what’s your favorite memory?
So far, I have only been on the Half Dome Backpacking trip and it is one of my favorite experiences of my very full adventure year! There are many memories which stand out. 1) That first serious climb leaving Tenaya Lake and realizing that, while I was in my BEST hiking shape, I had not prepared for the weight. I cried in frustration with myself. I finally shook myself out of it and just kept going. I learned a lot about myself that day. 2) Summiting Half Dome was awesome, making it down was even better! Whew! 3) But, my favorite memories were around the campfire or in the morning preparing breakfast.
Our group was absolutely amazing, so supportive, funny, and just really cool. ♥
Did you go hiking as a family when your children were young?
Sadly, mainly only when we were on vacation. My sons both played highly competitive soccer from a young age all the way through high school and our summers and weekends were dominated by training, games, tournaments, and team travel. On our vacations, I always asked them what was the favorite part of the trip. It was always the hike. Even when we were in Hawaii and they surfed and kayaked, the hike was always the winner.
What advice do you have for parents thinking about taking their kids on an outdoor adventure for the first time?
Start young, teach them Leave No Trace principles and to respect the wild. They are stronger than we think and are curious sponges. Have them help starting with little chores so they not only learn about responsibility, but also feel they are participating in the adventure. And of course, be prepared!
If you were to choose one highlight from your time spent outdoors in 2017, what would it be?
Oh my gosh! 2017 was one for the record books!
If I have to pick only one, it would be The Wave.
Only 20 people are permitted each day, so it is literally the most difficult public land to access in the country. The Wave itself is stunning, a geological wonder. But the trek through the desert to get there is colorful desert eye candy as far as the eye can see. Literally awesome. All of it.
What is the most challenging hike you’ve ever been on?
Emotionally: Half Dome. I was terrified and nearly hyperventilating both directions.
Physically: Hmm, a toss-up, but going to go with Mount Baldy via the Old Baldy Trail (~6000’ gain in 6 miles). We started at midnight to summit by sunrise. I didn’t get a wink of sleep.
Would love to try both of these again, believe it or not.
Where’s your next adventure?
Several awesome adventures coming up, but the next big backpacking trip is the Trans Catalina Trail in March. Working on getting my pack weight down!
The perfect s’more? (if you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)
I love s’mores! But, I also enjoy Jack Daniels Honey. 😉
Photos © 2018 Tracey Williams
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