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shifting drishti

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appalachian trail

Oh, By The Way…

… I made it.

I hiked from Georgia to Maine.

The Appalachian Trail was a beast. When people ask would you do it again or when is your next long hike all I can say is, “I’m Good.”

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My business cards make sure people know I can climb mountains.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did it. I’m extremely proud of myself and Leo for making it. The worst was probably about 4 months in, realizing how much work I had put in and I still had two more months of struggle, of scrambling, of straight ups and downs.

However, that’s the thing about the trail. You know.

You know what’s coming.

You know how many miles you have hiked. You know how many states have been checked off and how many more you have yet to come. Guidebooks tell you about monster climbs, scarce water sources, and where you can grab a burrito. The hiking app GutHook will even pinpoint your exact location on a map of the trail. You can watch your dot slowly move towards Maine. Maybe you’ll meet someone new and interesting, but after months on the trail you have your bubble of people moving along at your general pace. You know who snores (they always find a way to set their tent up next to you), who has goals to sleep with a wide variety of people, who thinks they know more than you, who is always down to party, who will make you laugh if you run into each other while filtering water. You know.

Then one day its done, and you no longer know. You no longer have “angels” leaving you goods in the woods to brighten your day or to nourish you. You no longer have the simplicity of just walking forward and that being all you have to do to check off another successful day. You no longer have your path mapped out for you.

Some become obsessed with the next trail. Preparing for the next adventure. OR planning a return to the trail the next season. Reliving the experience as quickly as it ended. The draw of trail life too enticing to just be over one day. Some have jobs lined up and partners waiting for them, their lives quickly going back to safe and well marked. Then there are others, those like me, where the trail ends and there are no more trail markers leading the way. No waiting partner to help ease you back into normalcy. No job to throw yourself into. No books nicely laying our what your future ups and downs will be.

You may have goals. An idea of where you are headed. Scrambling up a mountain to realize its taking you in the opposite direction you want to go. Sliding back down to be trapped in a valley till day light. Another day of trying to find your markers. Trying to find your way.

Life is an unmarked path through the wilderness.

Page Turn

The last few days leading up to an epic adventure are always… weird.

I don’t really have a better word to describe them. You’ve prepped and prepared, but now you are second guessing do you have all you need? Is your body ready? Is your mind? If you forgot something will it be make or break or will it be a 5 minute quick fix down the road? Have you done enough?

You have said a bunch of good-byes, but you aren’t officially on your way. You are gone, but still kind of around.

Things are still normal, however its looming over you that soon they won’t be. Yet when you return to this version of normal that you know it will no longer be normal. So, do you enjoy it? Do you indulge in little luxuries? Do you want to return to this version of normal or will it be time to find a new normal when this journey is done?

I always just feel weird at these junctures in life where I am so clearly closing out a chapter of life and I only have a hazy idea of what the next chapter looks like.

I guess I’m nervous-ish. I think most nerves come from being told how nervous or scared people are for me. I have been told about countless people who quit, fell ill or were hurt along the way and ultimately failed. But it doesn’t really rake up any nerves in me. I think my “nerves” come from the expectation to be nervous. 

I’m excited. I love adventures. Exploring is my jam. And stepping outside my comfort zone and rolling the dice on myself has become my new favorite past time.

I’m ready to go. I’m ready to sleep in my tent night after night. I’m ready to carry a weeks worth of food with me and filter my water. I’m ready to walk mile after mile through a green tunnel. I’m ready to curse at the sky as rain falls down. I’m ready to stink of sweat and bug spray. I’m ready to meet fellow hikers and hear their tales. I’m ready to connect with myself and get to know Mother Nature a little better.

For now. I sit in weird. This in between. This page turn on life.

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