Finding My Stride: Serendipity When I Needed It Most


To Merriam Webster, it’s “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” To a thru-hiker, though, serendipity is what gets us to Katahdin.

Much of the first month of my thru-hike felt like the antithesis of serendipity — I often found myself at the wrong place at the wrong time. I kept my spirits high, and I’m proud of all I fought through, but it felt like I was working against the trail instead of with it.

I knew the trail would provide for me, but one setback after another had me thinking ‘why can’t I catch a freakin’ break?’

Then, rather suddenly, I hit a groove. The miles felt less intimidating, my strides felt stronger and the days felt kinder. I was finally flowing with the trail instead of trying to control it. Maybe that feeling is what people consider ‘getting their trail legs.’

Case in point, upon leaving the hospital after having norovirus, I trudged through the miles days behind my tramily. Then, when I was at my lowest, a friend showed up to cheer me on. He kept me on trail after days of demoralizing illness. He was the serendipity I needed.

Similarly, I felt the ache in my ankle injury begin to fade. I felt myself getting stronger for the first time in weeks. It was like a gear shift, and it felt powerful. Then, trail magic returned with a bounty, and we started finding more reasons to celebrate. Cutting days short to opt for piña coladas and packing out extra treats to enjoy alongside milestones on the trail. It was all serendipitous.

I know not every day will feel like I’m in the right place at the right time, but, for now, I want to bask in gratitude for what the trail has given me. I’m not sure Merriam Webster could ever understand that feeling.

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