In a few short days I will discover what I have done right, and what I should have done differently. I’ll learn how much (or little) 10 months of meticulous research and planning will (or will not) benefit me. I’ve gone over my gear every night for the past week and whittled away anything I possibly could think of to save ounces and space in my pack; I cut the handle off of my tooth brush, tore only the sections relevant to my hike out of the Guidebook, and slimmed down my tent’s footprint just to name a few. I’ve practiced setting up and tearing down camp in every weather system that has passed through: super hot and dry, torrential downpours, insane wind, even sideways rain. It probably didn’t look pretty, but at the end of it all, my sleeping bag was dry. I say that’s a win! I’ve prepared mentally and physically. Spending 4 nights a week taking classes at a local Fitness Studio, only to go home, load up my pack and go for a power walk on the grid roads. I have to chuckle; my entire life I have always felt insecure about my big muscular legs. “I wish I had long skinny legs like the other girls.” was a regular phrase I would say to those close to me. Now, I’m thankful for how powerful they are. I’ve gone over what I think can occur emotionally on trail. There are going to be some awesome days filled with beautiful sights, high summits that reach above the clouds where the only thing above me is the warm sun. In that moment, I will feel like I’ve conqured the world. I also know there are going to be days where I will break down and want to quit. It will pour rain for hours (maybe days) on end. Every piece of clothing will be soaking wet. I’ll be cold, hungry, tired, and sore. In the woods. Alone and lonely. In those moments I will feel weak and insignificant. I feel like I’ve prepared as much as I possibly can for the known, and I’m prepared to have the unknown tossed my way, whether it be good or bad. I’ll embrace everything as best as I can in this physical, mental, spiritual adventure.
Through all of this, I was not prepared for people asking why this is something I’ve wanted to do, as if it’s some sort of great pilgrimage. I’ve said it many times; “It’s just a glorified walk.”. People laugh, but it’s true. All I’m doing is putting one foot in front of the other. “But why now?” they ask. “Because I want to.”, with a shrug is usually my reply. It’s not a lie, but there is so much more to it than that. I like adventure, but I never had the balls to do things of this magnitude alone. I was waiting for that special someone to do it with. With each failed relationship, and each passing year, I felt like adventure was drifting further and further away. I found myself day dreaming about climbing mountains, backpacking, and traveling with the love of my life, but the outcome is always the same; I get snapped back to the reality of a bright computer screen filled with accounting programs. Monotony of life getting the better of me, my envy of everyone coupling up, getting married, and having kids, and the frustration of feeling that even though I have a fantastic life full of privilege and love from family and friends (which I can’t even begin to put into words how infinitely grateful I am for), it wasn’t enough. Something clicked inside of me: If I put things I want to do one hold because I don’t have a significant other to do them with, I might not ever get the chance to do them. Two days later, I purchased my backpack.
You can’t control who will stay and who will leave you. You can’t control who will love you through thick and thin. You can’t control the actions of others, nor their state of mind. You can’t control the lies people tell you. You can’t control the weather, nor when the sun will rise, or when the sun will set. But, I’ll tell you one thing you can control in this crazy, beautiful, hectic, simple, complicated, hurtful, happy world….. your own decisions. So, be happy, be sad. Be social, be lonely. Be serious, be goofy. Be safe in your home town, or go do that adventure you keep thinking about. Do it, and then do more. Or don’t. It’s all up to you.