One summer when I was in my twenties, a new wilderness ranger showed up at our compound. She was a woman, which was unusual enough, since I was resigned to being the only one. But the most interesting thing about her was her age–41. “Whoa,” we whispered among ourselves. “How can she even do it? She’s amazing!”
Cringe. But in our defense, the work was hard. Gear weighed a ton back then, our backpacks seven pounds empty, our full weight ten times that when you added in all of the rest of the stuff, along with a pulaski strapped onto the ice axe loops, a shovel clutched in our gloved hands, and all the ginormous amount of trash we hauled out of the supposedly pristine backcountry. The long days of chopping through thick deadfall solo, digging out waterbars, and dismantling illegal fire rings pushed us to our knees sometimes, at twenty-eight.
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