So. It’s 2016 now, which means a new opportunity for starting fresh, making changes, and seeking improvement. One of my goals for this year is to get back into blogging a little bit. Last year I totally gave up on it- I posted one whole blog entry in 2015, with the words “part 1” in the title, obviously intending on posting a part 2 and more. I just never made time for it. Then I went on the Arizona Trail with intentions on posting regularly, but it was just so damn intense that I gave up on that too. On the PCT I was doing 30-35 miles per day, waking at 5:30am and walking all day until hitting the sack again at 9pm, so with my lack of time and exhaustion, I gave up on blogging once and for all. Looking back, I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t keep some sort of diary about various highlights, accomplishments, or memories that I want to remember in more detail, or at least write my miles and camp spot for each day so that I could piece together my hike later on, like I am nearly dying to do now (I’m currently going through trail withdrawals).
Besides having the means to look back at a hard copy of various things that happened throughout the year, I think writing more will help me maintain motivation to stick to my goals, and will keep me accountable when (heaven forbid) I start to get the urge to slack off.
In my recent attempt to write more, and also in my attempt to recollect my thru hikes in greater detail, I’ve written a short little PCT memoir that came from the heart on a recent night of missing the trail. This is not my PCT summary, and I DO plan on writing more detailed recaps of both of my thru hikes in 2015, but this is a start. Enjoy, and I hope my blogging serves you well this year. Happy 2016!
In 2015, I did a lot of walking. I slept in the dirt most days. I ate a ton of really shitty food- food that I would never eat in real life- ya know, like poptarts and candy bars. Tortillas and chips. Cold Couscous and bland tuna. I spent about $150 on Starbucks Latte packets and drank close to 200 chocolate Instant Breakfast packets. I ate meals on top of 12,000 foot mountain passes, and dried my wet gear out in the sun next to crystal clear alpine lakes. I woke up sore, weary, exhausted and in pain for 160 days straight. I sprinted down 8 mile, 4,000ft. descents at full speed with 15lbs on my back until my quads locked up so tight that I limped for days. I raced myself against the clock hiking up hills and passes, and broke personal records over and over and over again. I learned what it means to flip the pain switch to “ignore”, put my earphones in and head down, and slog out those last 6 miles of a 36 mile day, long after my feet started aching and hips started throbbing. I listened to almost every Dirtbag Diaries podcast there is, and played Taylor Swift “1989” on repeat for miles on end.
I hiked with 7 different people for 600 miles or more, and I saw (and smelled) the best and worst in each of them. They all know the best and worst of me, too. I had hiking partners who were TRULY partners- they’d wake me every morning with a smile even when I was grumpy, they’d sit on a rock and wait for me when I was an hour or more behind because I took too long sleeping in or talking on the phone. We threw pine cones until it drove the other person mad, we got into wrestling fights in the snow, we made up silly games like “the hobo shuffle” to make walking more interesting. We learned how to compromise. We learned what makes the other person tick. Sometimes, when I wondered if I would ACTUALLY be able to put the next foot in front of the other, I would walk directly behind my hiking partner and stare at the rhythm of his foot movements. Then I’d match mine to his, tell myself “if he can do it, so can I”, and I swear he would pull me up those hills with an invisible string. I wonder if I would have made it without those people.
I screamed with elation at the top of my lungs at the beauty surrounding me because it truly wasn’t possible to hold that strong of a feeling inside. I cried when I got too frustrated. I cried when I was overwhelmed with pure joy. I learned more about myself in 5 months of walking through deserts, mountains and woods, than some people do in their whole lives. I figured out what I was born for- that I’m a conqueror and a fearless powerhouse when I want to be, and that really all you need to accomplish your biggest goals is a steel head and the right running shoes. I decided that it’s time to stop wasting time. And that I need to do less talking and more doing. I saw first hand the power of “slow and steady”, and understand that as long as I’m moving my feet forward every single day, I’m making progress. I know how it feels to fall, but I am learning how to fall forward. I know how it feels to want to give up, but then I remember that a conqueror doesn’t quit. And that every step of the journey is as important as the prize at the end. I remind myself that some days I’ll feel good and some days I’ll feel bad, but that one of those days I’ll turn around and realize that I just walked from Mexico to Canada. That I just accomplished the biggest dream I’ve ever had. And that every good and bad moment led me to this perfect moment, and that this perfect moment will lead me to limitless possibility. And now the question begs to be asked- If walking across the country begins and ends with a single step, what else is possible with one single step, and then a few more?