This was a tough week. Not only were we struggling with the Corona virus pandemic, we were inundated with relentless wildfires that swept across California leaving in its wake 1.3 million burned acres of charred landscape. Every morning my friends and I would race to our phones to check the air quality. The smoky skies made it hard to breathe, hard to cope, but most difficult of all, was that we couldn’t do our regular morning hikes. It’s one thing to live alone during the pandemic, but it’s down-right depressing to cope when it’s impossible to hike with friends because the grey, smoky skies make it impossible to breathe.

Let me tell you a little about my Thrive Tribe Sisters, a hiking group started by Nancy Burns, a smart, creative, optimistic, kind woman who believes that maintaining optimal health is a top priority. This is more than a hiking group. I have come to rely on my tribe of wise women as a bastion of friendship during the maddening isolation of the pandemic. Every day we meet at the base of the hill behind my condominium at 7 am. rain or shine. Like a steady drum beat, we carry on with our lives through our daily walks, laughing, commiserating, sharing our misfortunes, and celebrating our successes.

When Saturday rolls around we usually do a 5-6 mile hike, on Mt. Tamalpais, the tallest peak in Marin county with miles of beautiful trails. This week in particular we are looking forward to hiking, because it’s been a miserable week spent inside, watching the hazy smoke color the sky a faded grey. We anxiously watch our phones early in the morning. At 5:45 am Saturday morning the text comes in from Nancy,”Our hike is on. Southern Marin air quality looks good. No guarantees. Live in the moment. Park at the Rock Springs Trailhead.”

We gather at the studio at 6:25 bleary eyed, some of us on little sleep and no coffee. We form a caravan of cars and head out. As we ascend the mountain, time slows as we navigate the thick blanket of white fog ahead. The car twists and turns into the curves as we climb to our destination. Then, a slight miracle, the fog bank lifts as we arrive at the trailhead. People gather in a circle, all smiles, sighs of blessed relief as we start up.

Thrive Tribe Women Hiking

Nancy takes the lead and within the first five minutes of the hike, Sylvia calls out, stop! Take off your masks and smell. The heavenly aroma of fresh trees, damp earth, makes us giddy. Over our shoulder a fiery sun rises along the horizon. It’s reddish pink color signals the fires revenge, reminding us that it’s still happening. Below soft pillows of fog nestle between the crevices of the mountain range. Rita, photographer extraordinaire captures the moment. Each woman has a special place in my heart. ” Look at this tree!, ” Jane calls out. With the   eye of a visual artist she finds exceptional vistas in our surroundings when I’m not even paying attention.

Madrone Tree

Sallie, resident meditator always has a kind word to share. Lizzie, always helping others. We celebrated her birthday twice just because she’s extra special. Deb, I call her the “sage woman” because she always gives sage advice. Rita, fellow SWP writer invited me into the Tribe. My heartfelt thanks to her. Marsha, the electric charger, often in the lead with her brilliant red hair and velvet green cap. Anne S. with her adorable pug Pansy behind her on the trail. Anne S. two, from Ireland, who always spins a lively Irish tale. Magda, voice of gratitude reminds us to be thankful. Karna, thoughtful, quiet and reliable, steady as she goes. Sylvia, always concerned for the well being of others. Catherine, who may appear quiet but is known for her rich, hearty laugh, and friendly demeanor. Sharry, ever slow and steady with a zen like love of nature.

Forgive me dear sisters if I have forgotten anyone, that was not my intention. You make my world richer, keep my life flowing, carry me along the stream when my sadness threatens to take me under. We all have a special gift to share and I treasure my moments with you, now as always. In Gratitude, we speak truth to power and carry each other along, through the ups and downs of life, the pandemic, and the smoke. We live out our dreams together.