It’s been a long winter. But one of my better in recent memory. I was confident in my job, felt I was doing well and avoiding being overly stressed. I got better at managing, seeing big picture, and putting things in perspective. I believe I learned much of this from my time on the trail last year. I stressed trivial items less, and had better focus. It was refreshing to see that an outside perspective of hiking the trail could actually benefit my work performance, which seemed so unrelated.
I also stayed healthy and fit, for the most part. I made a commitment to run every day, and I stayed pretty strong on that. Come Spring when my hours at work started declining and my weekends became free of work commitments I started to hit the trail hard. I did the boulder super slam with Cactus and Eli. I did the Highline Canal trail in two days as documented in a previous post. I did the white rim trail with Dirtmonger and Handy Andy in a 3 day weekend. On April 10th, I ran my first 100k in Zion with fellow 2014 PCT’ers Rice Krispies and Big Sauce. Sheriff Woody, Guthrie, and Coughee all came out as well to support us and get together. It was an amazing time seeing them, and it was a great challenge trying to do 63 miles in one day. The ups and downs in the race felt awfully familiar to the rigors of hiking big miles on the trail. My body held up pretty well all things considering, and I finished without any serious injury! Yay!
Since the race in April I’ve begun taking planning for the CDT more seriously. I started stock piling food and planning my diet. I finalized my resupply strategy and started putting the finishing touches on my gear for the trail. Friends Snorkel and Cactus were a huge help in being both buddy’s that helped me get in shape by doing all of these wild winter hikes, and being mentors in regards to what I should expect on the CDT. I owe them both so much.
Even though things went really well this winter, I found things that were concerning as well. I felt a constant yearning for the trail. Being present was a challenge at times, as I would often zone out and day dream of being back out in the woods; feeling unfulfilled with the city life and how relationships are structured outside of the trail. Thru’s talk of this often, this feeling that the genuine comaradarie you share with others on the trail can feel lost when you’re off the trail. No longer are you spending all day with friends. People have their own lives, and they involve much more than walking together, sharing meals, and bonding over a shared sunrise. Life can be stressful, and it’s hard to find those simple pleasures with demands of work and being an adult. I used to go about my routine and not think twice about this. This winter, I felt a void in the routine. I felt tired often, questioning things I never considered before. A friend told me once that thru hiking ruined them. I can now understand that. Though I never felt ‘ruined’, the authenticity of the trail and what your life becomes can put all other things feeling lesser or unfulfilling. It’s a feeling many thru hikers can relate to and it was interesting to see that change in my mindset.
Needless to say, I am ready for the trail this year. I’m ready to get back out there, to live on the dirt, to have a routine, to meet new, interesting and inspiring people every day. People that are different from me. Yet we’ll all be bonded by the adventure that we are sharing.
I’m excited to push my limits, both mentally and physically. I want to learn what the land has to teach me. And, admittedly, I’m excited for the break from a society that I never felt like I really fit in with since I had been back from the trails. Tomorrow, exactly six months from the day I ended my hike on springer mountain, I’ll be at the Mexico border, back in the desert. There’s nothing out there. It’s exactly what I’m looking for.
Before I start, I also need to give thanks where thanks are due. I have been helped by countless people, and I am beyond grateful for the support of those around me:
My family – mom and dad, Jana josh and Monica. For supporting me, even when I’m gone/non existent half of the year. Your support means more than anyone’s to me.
Snorkel, Teresa, and all of the kind folks at the CDTC. Without them, this trail would not be here to hike. Everyone there works so hard, volunteering so many hours to help make our dreams a reality. They deserve so much, yet ask for so little. They are the ‘super heros’ of the trail. I encourage anyone who wants to help or is inspired by the trail to take the time and donate any amount to them. You can find a link to do this in the ‘donate’ page above.
Morgan and Aron – you two have helped me way more than you know. My life would be about 100x more stressful if it wasn’t for all of your kindness. These adventures might not be possible if not for all of your help and understanding. Thanks!!
Cactus & Aroo – you’re both total badasses, and I’m glad we’ve become such good friends. I’ve learned so much from y’all, and part of me wishes I was adventuring with you two in our backyard all summer!
Scudz – for constant friendship and the reminder to never take myself to seriously. You’ve been so steady with me, and that’s been huge. Miss ya kid 😉
Badger and Jonny – for being my two best friends for life and supporting all my crazy adventures. You two know me better than anybody, and in so lucky to have both of you in my life.
My whole trail family from the pct and at – y’all get it. And y’all are so dope. Dope af. An inspiring group to call friends, that’s for sure. So glad I’ve got all you dirtbags to text, fb message, snap, as Instagram. Modern technology making things so easy to stay connected!!
Deloitte Leadership – for understanding the odd duck and supporting my dreams. I am so fortunate to work for such a great company that follows through on their claims to support work/life balance.
Grant, Jersey, Glen and the guys at GG – y’all are great, and your support of my adventures has been amazing. I’ve been able to fine tune my gear to exactly what I want thanks to y’all!
Grace – for helping bring me back to the present 🙂
Nancy – you went from trail angel to good friend. So lucky to have met you and your family in NC. You’ve been so supportive, a true friend!
There are many, many more who have helped. Thank you all!