On October 8th, 2017 the CSU Chico International Student Services Center organized a hiking trip to Feather loop Trails. As a non-international student I was not only nervous about being denied to attend, but because 1) I’m not an athletic person and 2) I DETEST waking up early. Don’t get me wrong. Sports are a beautiful activity to invest your time in. I just happened to not being keen towards anything that disturbs your sleeping cycle for an activity that requires a whole lot of physical strength . Which is why I still question why I attended on the first place.
But let’s back up first. On Sunday morning at 8:30 AM, my international house mates and I stood on the CSU’s parking lot. Cars started to pull in, filling 10-30 international alumni. Students coming from Japan to Germany all greeted each other kindly. As I stood there with my ‘not-so-athletic’ clothing, I managed to speak to some of the alumni from the UK and even pet a husky.
We stood on the parking lot to what appeared to be the entrance to Feather Loop Trails. We were engulfed by giant pine trees that caused neck pain, when trying to see it’s end. An overwhelming feeling took over me at the thought of thriving life surrounding me. You can probably tell by now that I don’t leave my house very often. I just felt like the trees were urging us to explore them. I couldn’t help feeling a rush of adrenaline at the thought of embarking in this ‘expedition.’ I pictured myself walking through bridges and hopping over small river to reach our destination. Boy, was I wrong…
We lead the caravan into the woods and maintained a steady pace for about an hour. I talked to a girl, whose name I unfortunately forgot, that came from the UK but was originally from Iran. Although I don’t particularly enjoy starting a conversation, I found myself being able to ask questions to my peers (in between breaths I might add.) Everything was well.
This is where the initial adrenaline started to diminish. Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one. People had begun to slow down and the caravan dismantled. Unfortunately my group was one of those who decided to take a rest. To my relief, most of the hikers had sympathy for one another and encouraged each other to keep on going. Let’s say I received a lot of encouragements.
Although two hours had only passed since the start of the hike, I felt like every minute stretched to 5. To make matters worst, I felt slight disappointment for not being able to admire the beautiful scenery. You see, I have a terrible case of clumsiness. I can trip over air. It’s not fun. Every step required my full attention.
Two bottles of water later, we were almost at the end of the trail. At this point in the hike, many had started to fall behind. Luckily, our small group of 4 managed to caught up. The husky dog, on the other hand, decided to take a detour and caused his owner to chase him through the woods. But don’t worry, they both arrived to the top 40 min later. As we walked farther in, we started to hear the sound of water falling. The sound reached our ears, filling us with adrenaline. We were almost there! We went down a maze of trees only to encounter a 100 step staircase leading to the end of the trail. I am ashamed to say that I consider rolling down the stairs rather than walk more. My legs felt like jelly, and going down the steep staircase I feared I might tumble over. Unfortunately, I am still alive.
Walking down to the final rest stop, was like finally sitting down on the It’s a Small World’s boat ride in Disneyland. It was like laying down on a memory foam mattress in the mall, after following your mother around all day. It was like, like ….well you get the idea. It was relaxing and fulfilling to finally sit down and enjoy the view. The Feather Loop Trials took you for a 3.2 mile hike to the one of the US’s tallest year round waterfall. I got to say it was breathtaking. And across from it, you could clearly see the valley.
As I stood there enjoying my apple with almond butter, I finally understood why people go through this trouble. The thought of making it to the top after your body telling you ‘not anymore’ but your mind telling you ‘keep going’, is a feeling that I had not experienced in a while. It was the feeling of joy and satisfaction. Sitting there along my newly friends and husky (yes, the husky made it), I thought of how people around the world won’t get to see this hidden beauty or others like this in their lifetime. It saddens me to think how many don’t have the resources to simply drive up here, but some people don’t have the physical and mental support that I did. I feel extremely grateful and lucky to be here surrounded by such interesting and beautiful people. I gained more than I expected from this trip. I gained new friendships, an immense sense of satisfaction and gratitude, and a whole lot of sore muscles! But most importantly, I felt grateful that I didn’t have to tumble my way to the parking lot because I actually made it in one piece. Thank you.