Two Halves of a Whole Idiot
Bryson said it best “hiking was a tiring, dirty, pointless slog between distantly spaced comfort zones.” And I found it’s much harder to find someone to thru hike than I thought. I spent a while actively searching for somone to join me on a “small walk, through 14 states, for 2190+ miles.” Turns out when you put it that way, not many get very gung-ho about the idea of it. Who knew?
Over the summer my dad was actively looking for a companion for me, despite my insistence that it wasn’t needed. My exact words “I’m almost 30. No, I will not take a gun. I can take care of myself. I don’t need a bathroom buddy to hold my hand.” ” His ideas: 1) a goof that had no plans whatsoever of hiking anywhere and 2) a freewheeling, gun wielding, ex-cop, hippie older woman. Um, thanks, Dad, but i’ll have to take a pass.
My mindset on a partner, despite everyone’s demanding that I have one, was that if the trail wanted me to have a partner it would provide one for me. Call it romanticism, blind faith, whatever you want. I didn’t just say it but firmly believed it. You cannot will or want a person to thru hike. It has to be something they feel, like a stirring, like the flutter of hummingbird’s wings in their chest.
When my best friend chose to join me for a week on the trail, I accepted with gusto. I knew she would need, more or less, the same gear for a short stint as I would need for the long haul. And that slowly transformed into a month, a few months, into “We are going all the way. Together.”
Here’s the thing about a lifelong best friend. They are like a good bra: supportive, they lift you up, they make you feel good about yourself, they hold things together.
Another thing: a best friend will never let you do anything alone.
If someone had told us then the rollercoaster of emotions that such a choice can cause, I wonder would we still have decided to undertake such a journey? Or maybe the journey chose us long before we knew. It’s safe to say that even though we have yet to set foot on the trail together that we are already riding the wave of feelings that come with it all. It’s an ebb and flow, a crest and then a break. Washing us in before pulling us back out beyond safety. Cursing the slowness of the calendar then begging it to slow down so that we can catch our breath if only for a moment.
A week may find one of us totally sure of herself while the other is doubting her decisions, doubled over anxious. We’ve learned to accept this and let the emotions teach us what to expect about the rollercoaster of emotion that lies in wait for us. It may the hardest thing we ever do, but it will be but a blink, a moment in time, if only we can choose to remember that.
There have been questions. “What if she doesn’t go? What if she backs out? Will you go it alone?” Identical on both ends. Worries, that are well intentioned, but still sting. I knew how I was answering but I couldn’t say the same for her until a few nights ago when it came up in conversation. Our answers, coming from two halves of the same brain, “Of course I would go alone. But we are in this together.” Worries abated.
Where at first this trip was about an adventure and a once in a lifetime journey it has started to sink in that this is more than just going to be wild girls in the woods. The only people we will have to rely on is each other. We both know and don’t know what lies ahead, we just know that this is a trip we were meant to make together. The highs, the lows, the breathtaking, the heart stopping, the smiles, the tears, the warts, bumps, and all.
“Do you think there will be a moment we don’t hike together?” She asked me. I expect there to be moments where we may drift apart, just stay in our own thoughts, our own space, our own world. Do I see myself finishing without her? I can say this: If for some reason she had to quit I know she would want me to keep going and vice versa but there has never been a moment where I doubted her presence until the end.
This trip has become something of a tale of endurance. Our friendship survived playgrounds & monkey bars, elementary school and awkward stages, adult life and life in two different states. What is 6 months, some mountains, and a lot of long miles in comparison? If Bryson & Katz can survive together on nothing but good humor and smart-assery we’ve got this one in the bag.
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Great post! Inspirational! I think you two will fair much better than Bryson and Katz. Can’t wait to see you out there somewhere between MA and VA!
Also. Great last name. A surname of true nobility.
Thank you! Hoping we do better than Bryson & Katz! I don’t plan to do any driving!
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Great job on your blog! I really like your writing style. I will be on the trail a couple of weeks ahead of you. I am stepping off on Feb 25th. Keep up with the preparations, training and blogging. Take care and I will see you down the trail. ~ RavenWhale ~
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