A Mother-Daughter Duo on the John Muir Trail and Beyond

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Gossamer Gear | May 04, 2021

By: Emily Schrick

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It’s not the most common duo out on the trail: the adult mother and adult daughter combo. We certainly get more comments, it seems, than the more familiar father-son Boy Scout pair. 

We did not lead a traditionally “outdoorsy” life while I was growing up, which definitely surprises people even more. While Mom went camping and backpacking much more in her childhood and young adult years, life got in the way with two youngsters and a demanding career. I didn’t end up discovering my love for the outdoors and backpacking until later in college. Not really having any friends who were interested in backpacking at the time, I forced my mom to revisit her youth and get back into backpacking with me. Thankfully, she was a willing participant, and we’ve had so many fun trips since: from hiking down to Havasu Falls to thru-hiking the John Muir Trail (JMT).

I love backpacking with my mom. There is definitely no one else in the world who I could share a tent with for 23 nights straight like we did on our JMT thru-hike. Body odors, midnight pee breaks, snoring, and huddling for warmth could drive tent mates crazy over time—but not us. 

We endured some less-than-great moments on the trail together: Lightning storms on the Mammoth Crest and not really knowing the best course of action. Pouring hail and rain creating a river underneath our tent that we tried to mitigate by digging a pitiful trench. Arriving at Evolution Lake amidst another rain and hail storm, trying to find any flat, Leave-No-Trace-friendly campsite while staving off the early stages of hypothermia. Mom taking care of me at Trail Camp as we descended Mount Whitney, while I was dealing with altitude sickness. 

Even though we had some rough moments on the trail, I always felt safe and comforted knowing I was with my best friend, and that we could pull through these “type two” fun events together (or, die together, I guess). But, even through all those hardships (and, surely, many more to come), we can lean on each other—and even if we lash out at each other, we can quickly forgive. 

We teach each other important lessons while on trail together: she teaches me patience and grace, I teach her perseverance and confidence. Honestly, I don’t think either of us would have guessed that we would still be learning from each other, both as adults. And I don’t think my mom ever expected that her adult daughter would still want to hang out with her (and live with her, but that’s a whole different story!).

I love my mom to the end of the Earth, and I’m so happy I reignited her backpacking hobby so many years after she first started. I love that she still wants to go hiking with me, even though I’ve pushed her to her limits many, many times, and I hope that we have plenty more trips together in the future.

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Emily "Squishy" Schrick is a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, thru-hiker, and lover of the Sierra Nevada. Read about her hiking adventures at https://backcountryemily.com and follow her on Instagram.