Before the Beginning

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I promised myself that I would start to write again.  If there is anything that I regret about the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s that I didn’t write enough. I became consumed with the miles and would arrive into camp each day, utterly exhausted, only desiring to eat as fast as I can and go to sleep as quickly as possible before the racing thoughts and anxieties of mountain lions coming to eat me would enter my tired brain.

No, not this time. This time, I am going to write. This is going to be a full spectrum of documentation-both video and writing documentation. I have a feeling they may coincide smoothly-I feel I am able to communicate more clearly once I have written my jumbled thoughts on paper. 

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I can’t deny that I am nervous about the coming months. It is a big undertaking to drop everything in your life to follow a dream like this. You don’t realize how much of a sacrifice it is to hike the whole Appalachian Trail until you’re about to hike the whole Appalachian trail.

Goodbye money, comfort, and relaxation.  

Before I get into the anxieties and stress of what it actually takes to hike 2,190 miles with a dog, I need to express how excited I am about this journey. The thought of walking everyday, and experiencing the simplicity of life is something I cherish to my core. Thru hiking is not a complicated sport. We walk and eat- all day, ever’day. It’s quite luxurious. And I didn’t grow up with that kind of luxury. I grew up with chaos and business lurking in every corner. 

So of course: I am excited to be present. To be mindful. To get lost in the moment. And to do that all with my pup, Rue. Her joy is contagious. 

But in case you didn’t know, planning a thru hike is overwhelming: what gear should I choose? How much time will it take? How many miles should I do a in a day? How does one take a dog on trail? What if said dog gets injured? How should I plan resupplies?

….And that is only the beginning….

Because I have a little experience with thru hiking, I was able to answer some of those questions fairly easily. However, I still find it insanely difficult to process the personal parts of an adventure like this.

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Eric and I have been together for over a year and a half, but I feel I have known him my whole life. He is kind, gracious, sweet and treats me as an equal. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a love like this. I hope to marry him one day. 

He loves me a lot. The love we share with one another is unlike anything we have experienced before, making it even more difficult to be apart. But this isn’t our first rodeo. 

When I hiked the PCT and said goodbye to Eric and Rue for 4 months, it put quite the strain on our relationship. Neither of us are big “techy” people, and so keeping in touch was often frustrating with the constant disappointments of cell service and time zone differences. But he knew how important it was for me to do the PCT alone-how much I needed that time to grow into the woman I have always wanted to be. Eric supported and encouraged me each and every step of the way. He was my biggest fan, reminding me of truth when I wanted to quit. I am grateful for a man like him.

However, I must admit that this thru hike feels different. After the PCT, I never thought in a million years that I would go back on a long ass trail again, at least not without him. I remember calling him many times, making promises like, “This is the last time I’ll do something like this,” and “It’ll be over soon enough and we will be together forever again.”

I lied. 

I came back a changed person. I knew from the moment I came back that things would never be the same. 

All things considered, the adjustment back to “normal life” went pretty smoothly. Unlike the chaos of the big city, Eric was my constant. He was excited about the changed me, embracing and complimenting my new perspectives.

But no matter how good we were doing throughout the adjustment period in the months to come, I knew deep down that the PCT would not be my last long trail.

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One rainy day in Nashville, Eric came home to me, uncontrollably crying about something I was simmering on throughout my day. I remember feeling like I was going throw up due to nervousness and anxiety. That whole day, all I could think about was how amazing it would be to go back- back to the trail. Back to where I saw myself for who I truly was. Maybe there could be more for me on a trail.

One may assume that I struggle with escapism, (to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities), but you must understand that I love my life. I love living in a van with Eric and Rue; writing, bartending, and awaiting the next adventure. It is a simple life. It is a good life.

But there is something so addicting and beyond rewarding about seeking challenges. Seeking growth. Seeking and becoming the best version of who you are.

And I craved it, even if it meant risking my relationship with Eric.

That night, I told him I was going to go back. We held one another in our janky ass van and cried. We knew what was to come.

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On March 9th, Rue and I plan on beginning our journey on the Appalachian trail, starting in Georgia and hopefully ending in Maine. It is going to be an amazing ride: I am nervous. I am scared. I even feel slightly queasy.

But I know I want it. I want the challenge. I want the growth. I want the inspiration. I want simplicity. I want the mediation. My wild soul needs it .

Because if I die tomorrow, what will I regret more?

That I didn’t follow my dreams? That I let time slip away without focusing on what I born to do? That I played it safe and lived without seeking my potential?

Or that I said yes to the most epic and challenging adventure placed right in front of me?

The answer is simple: Springer Mountain, here I come.

March 5th, 2019