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I just want to say that I really enjoy my former and current co-workers.

So, one very hot weekend in July, two former co-workers, a current co-worker, my brother, and I all decided to go on a backpacking trip. Now, at least three of the five had backpacking experience. At least two of the three had extensive backpacking experience, and one of the two had major-super-hero-professional backpacking experience.

My brother – is an Eagle Scout.

Meanwhile, I have had zilch in experience. None, zero.

But hey, I was more than willing to tough it out and carry my own weight (figuratively, of course. I’m not that strong).

In any case, we all ended up voting for Chewing Gum Lake as the site of our torture, ahem…adventure. Actually, we had tried to do Cathedral Lakes, but permits for overnight camping there are fairly limited and are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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The original plan was that we would drive up all the way to the trailhead (Gianelli Cabin Trailhead), and then start the hike from there. It is about a 4.5 mile hike from the trailhead to Chewing Gum Lake. Round Trip, it would be about 9 miles.

Not too bad. Definitely doable. I’ve hiked the 8.5 miles of Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park in one afternoon. I can certainly do 4.5 miles.

Scoff.

Well, we hadn’t anticipated the drive to the trailhead to be rather…rough, bumpy, and rocky. It became pretty clear that my co-worker’s sedan wasn’t going to make it. Not to mention all the signs warning that sedans should not move on forward.

And so we were forced to park the cars off the main “road” and start our hike about 2.5 miles away from the trailhead.

What was to be a leisurely 4.5 mile hike was now effectively 7 miles long. And it was hot. And we had a 1,500 foot ascent ahead of us. With 35 pounds of supplies on our backs.

Yayyy!

Obviously, within the first few feet of starting the hike…my foot rolled on some loose rocks and I was promptly dragged down by the weight of my bag. To this day, upon the writing of this blog post (nearly 3 weeks later), I still have a scab on my right knee from this adventure.

A few feet later, I slid again, this time on my butt. Loose rocks scrape buttocks, people.

But eventually we got into a little groove and plodded along. Actually, most of the group were very sprightly hikers. In fact, Maria…ran ahead of us to get our camp started. Here, I am, barely surviving, and she’s running the trail uphill and with her pack on. *Hangs head in shame*

Meanwhile, Vanessa, aka Team Leader, aka Group Mom, motivated us by saying things like, “Let’s keep going for the next 15 minutes without stopping, okay, guys?”

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Easy, peasy. Wheeze. The altitude really did make a difference. Air thinner, heart pumping so hard I wished I had worked harder on my cardio. To be fair, Chewing Gum Lake starts at about 8,000 feet above sea level and you do the extra 1000 foot climb up. And I normally exist (thrive, dare I say?) in a part of California that sits quite happily at 52 feet above sea level.

All kidding aside, everyone was really patient with my inexperience, and I’m just so grateful that they made the whole process an adventure.

One of the more rewarding things about the hike was the beauty that you could see along the trail. There are panoramic vistas looking down into valleys. In the distance, there was a thunderstorm over the horizon.  And then there were meadows upon meadows of wild flowers, too.

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Maria, who used to be a Ranger and a “hot shot” firefighter (see what a “hot shot” does here.) would point out all the various flowers, also identifying which ones were edible, which ones were poison, and which ones made for wonderful toilet paper out in the wilderness.

It’s like one of those moments where you are just rendered small by all the things you didn’t know about the world, and all that you take for granted. Like a proper plant to use as toilet paper that won’t have you breaking out in a rash. Important life stuff.

As we went along, Evette’s shoe broke and she had to switch to sandals. Trooper, that lady. Also, an insect flew into…and died in my eyeball.

Yes.

I saw it fly into me and I felt my eyelid close over it. And felt it … just there. On my eyeball. Stuck. I’m in the wilderness. I don’t have a mirror, or eyedrops. I allowed both Evette and my brother to poke my eye with their fingers while I held my eyelids open for the assault. My brother offered me some water and I squirted it into my eyeball…

…and realized that it was burning and sticky. He guiltily looked at me and said, “oops, I had some flavored electrolyte powder in it.” Aargh!

Finally, using a pair of sunglasses as a mirror, I finally extracted the creature from my eye. And just as I did, we realized we. had. made. it. We were at the lake!

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One of the First Glimpses of Chewing Gum Lake

We set up camp and look at how cute our tents are.

Then, we went for a refreshing dip in the lake.

Later, we hung out, gossiped, drank a little Fireball, and I also tended to my little wound from my first fall.

Then, it was time to start a fire. We gathered some firewood, and heck, Vanessa got us an entire log. Gotta admit, our campfire was pretty epic.

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Also took a second to capture a panoramic photo of the growing dusk.

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My brother was a trooper being the only boy.

We talked around the fire some more. Talking about our leggings, shoes, lawyer stuff, ovulation, babies, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, relationships, ethical dilemmas, whistleblower scenarios, finance and banking, ethnocentric identities, our Scandinavian conspiracy…

We covered a wide range of topics but I had to hand it to my brother. For about 70% of the conversation, he probably had no idea what we were talking about.

Hahaha! Poor guy.

Our dinners were dehydrated packs of food. With the use of a jet boil, all you gotta do is put in some purified water from the lake, get it to a boil, mix into the bag, and wait 20 minutes. Next thing you know, BAM! food. Not too bad, either. Then later, it was time for s’mores. Because…camping.

When it was bed time, we set up our bear hang. It was not actually as high as regulation bear hangs…lol. But we felt kind of better by just even doing it anyway. Pretty sure a bear on its hind legs could have easily ripped through our food and toiletries kit. None of us had carried a bear cannister with us.IMG_3187

The next day, we woke up bright and early and had breakfast — again, the dehydrated packs (bacon and eggs for me–surprisingly good).

The day was kind of hazy — and later when we had phone signal again, we learned that it was the day the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County had just started. =(

We quickly packed up (practicing “leave no trace” principles) and headed back on the (dreaded) 7 mile hike back into civilization.

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A somewhat hazy early morning.

The trek back wasn’t as tough, given that most of the trail was at least downhill. It was such a challenging, but amazing trip. I’d definitely do it again, but this time, maybe stay a couple nights! It was a great way to keep in touch with former co-workers and get to know a new co-worker (who had co-counseled on previous cases before)!

I also really appreciated the time I got to spend with my brother. He doesn’t do social media, so keeping in touch with him really requires face-to-face hang outs.

So, who wants in on the next trip?

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The Happy Little Group

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Here IT is again…

The Annual Resolution to WRITE MORE.

I do truly lament the dearth of any creative non-legal writing from me…

It’s just, after a day of staring at a computer screen, do I really want to stare at another one at home? After wracking my brain reading and writing legal briefs, I can’t bear to do anything else but, well…ugh…well, chores have to be done.

Adulting has hit hard.

But every year, I tell myself, “Isabelle, write…just write.”

Okay, little voice in my head, I’ll try.

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Oh Herro Again…

Hello Again, Blog…

Let’s try this again…oh yeah, this means that I’m going through another change/chapter in my life — this is the first time I have ever gone ahead and quit a job without any back up plan…

I’m terrified and exhilarated at the same time.

Ask me again in a month if I’m still exhilarated, though.  My savings are finite and I can go stark crazy staying home all day.

Thus, I shall try my hand at writing and blogging again — just to keep myself busy and inspired.

Wish me luck.

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I never knew there was such pretty hiking trails just outside of Los Angeles. Although, I had to wake up at the butt crack of 6 am, but it was completely worth it. I never really go hiking in the summer because my greatest enemy tends to come out during the summer times…the ever-so-awful evilus lizardus.

So misty mountains, cool earth, cold temperatures — those were perfect hike conditions for me.

I went with a group of my Kickball friends who are always a fun bunch.

The hike was long and surprisingly arduous (probably because half the trail was a bit slippery from the previous day’s rain). But that waterfall was a very welcome surprise and definitely worth the hike. I will be back…y’know, after summer and when all the evilus lizardus are hiding under the rocks where they belong.

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Exactly two years ago was the last time I went snowboarding.I had hurt myself pretty terribly trying out a jump in icy conditions. So, while recuperating, I could not finish off the season. Then, last season…well, let’s just say that it resulted in June Mountain being shut down.

So, I’m really intent in getting my Snow Mojo back. My Snojo. Haha!

But it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Fear of injury, new boots to break in, and Southern California snow conditions weren’t the easiest ways to debut my almost-three-decade self back on the slopes. However, I still had a grand ol’ time.

It’s always a good reminder that snowboarding is really just a self-challenge. How far will you go? How fast can you ride? What new thing will you try? For me, I had two main goals: Break in the new boots that my brother had given me for Christmas TWO YEARS AGO (pre-injury), and be comfortable on the board again.

I’d say I half-accomplished both. PhotoGrid_1358056811944

Featured above: MINION, my awesome stomp pad that helped me get off the lift with fewer than normal incidents; the NEW BOOTS that I initially didn’t even know how to lace up; “Ketchup” aka Maker’s Mark in our Pepsi and Sierra Mist (Joey went to a Southern school, and I guess sprite and Maker’s Mark is popular there); BRRR, it was cold up there at 5 degrees Fahrenheit; DeTRUCK, aka Joey’s DeWalt truck that took us to the snow; Kickball BUDS, Micaela & I all bundled up.

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These boots were kind of weird to lace up, but surprisingly stayed tight (too tight, but I’m assuming it’s because it was the first time I ever put my feet in them ever). I had to go to the repair shop and have the guy in there show me how to lace these up. Hahaha! But they definitely were easier to tighten and loosen than the traditional laces. Let’s see how long they hold up.

Next week, I am off to Tahoe and I’m SUPER excited because it will be the BF’s FIRST time snowboarding!!!

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Unless you stayed up all night on December 31, 2012, there was no way anyone who imbibed and danced the New Year’s celebration was going to make the first sunrise of the new year (or at least, that’s what I told myself), so Chris and I decided to catch the first sunset of 2013.

We went to Malibu pier and froze our faces waiting for the sun to set. These pictures were taken by my lovely, broken, HTC Evo.

We then spent a very low-key and relaxing (sleepy) dinner at Fish Grill which nearly has 5 stars on yelp. It was very good fresh seafood.

After that, we went back home and commenced with the lazying around all day watching movies in bed.

It was a good January 1, 2013. Welcome New Year.

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I had such great original plans for the weekend of January 5-6, 2013, just the kind of weekend to start the New Year off right.

Originally, I was going camping with some friends from my WAKA Kickball league in San Clemente, down by the beach. Unfortunately, with the holidays and work getting nuts, I was vastly ill-prepared. The kind of not prepared where 2 days before the trip, I still didn’t have a tent.

I was going to share a tent with a girl friend. But she was also unprepared for the camping trip (no sleeping bag), and she got signed up to do some fundraiser over the weekend for her job. Another friend, Brett, offered to share his tent with me…much to the chagrin of my BF. So, I had to decline. I was going to rent a tent from REI, then. Suddenly, Dennis, texted me to remind me to bring firewood.

And it hit me how real camping this could be. I mean, I have “camped” in Yosemite before, where we had like…y’know, cabins. And heaters.

Brett assured me that this would be luxury camping. I could bring my airbed. There were showers available. Etc…etc… but I was still stuck on, tent and firewood.

Not to mention that I had a shit ton of work to do that would 90% have required me to be at the office on Sunday.

Then another set of non-camping WAKA Kickball friends decided to go on a day trip for some snowboarding action. I was actually quite excited when I got the text message Friday morning. So I told my camping folks that I’d raincheck for warmer weather, and gave the green light to my snowbuddies.

I got my board and gear ready the night before. At 5 am, I get a text from Micaela as a wake up call. I hop out of bed, wash up and was all ready to go around 5:30 am. We were to meet at Joey’s place and he would drive us up. Then I find out I forgot my wallet and all my money at the office.

crap.

Joey says it’s fine. He’ll spot me.

I hop into the car and it gives me this:

AAAHHHH!! The Horror!

AAAHHHH!! The Horror!

I call that the F-Squiggly of Doom. Okay, because the sign looks like the Letter F over some squiggly lines. It apparently means something to do with the temperature. And how if I keep driving with that light on, my car will explode and I will be obliterated.

Something like that.

In any case, anyone who knows anything about cars have all told me that I should STOP DRIVING IMMEDIATELY when I see that sign.

So, this meant…well, that I couldn’t go anywhere that day.

And in the back of my mind, even when Micaela and Joey were both telling me that they would swing by and pick me up…I knew that I had to just suck it up and be a responsible adult. Besides, just three weeks ago, the mechanic did tell me that I needed new brakes, too. And that my radiator was cracked. And that my car was an oil guzzler and I should have oil put in every month.

So, I resigned myself to going back home, putting my board away, telling my new snowboarding boots that we would have our time soon, and going back to bed. I mean, going to the mechanic…after I go back to bed. After all, it was still 6 AM.

I spent a good deal of money on my car Saturday. Then spent the rest of my day working–yes, working–on my brief and watching some TV.

As disappointed as I was about not being able to go snowboarding, one of my new year’s resolution was to act like the damned grown-up that I was. And I felt like yesterday, taking care of business, cleaning, working and just relaxing at home one a Saturday night was kind of like grown up.

Instead of waiting and pushing something back until it blew up in my face (which could be literal in the case of my car), I took care of it, despite having to forego something I considered “fun”.

Oh well. Next week, I’m off to the slopes with my roommate anyway.

The end. Damn you squiggly.

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