It’s Almost Time To Leave-Let The Freak Out Emotions Begin!
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.”
I find myself completely “checked out” lately. I can’t focus on anything, I’m bursting with excitement, and totally ready to begin ADVENTURING! Of course I’m also freaking out about things like serial killers hiding in the woods and overthinking my gear choices. My sister will be flying into Charlotte in less than 2 weeks and then shortly thereafter we will be hiking the approach trail in Georgia. Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t believe it’s almost here!
For starters, I am so pumped that my sister will be doing the first 30 days with me. We have been texting back and forth about how excited we are. She even got us these rad adventure pins for our packs!
“Adventure Is Out There!”
If you know what movie this is from, bonus points for you. Ha! Anyway, she made a last-minute decision to join me on this adventure. Such a great surprise! My sister and I are eight years apart so it’s only recently that we’ve become close as it was always hard to connect given our age difference. We never really had anything in common and it was hard to relate to each other. Now that I am 30 and she is 23, we are beginning to relate to similar things and I am really looking forward to being able to share a part of this life-changing experience with her.
I actually got a little choked up the other day. Our mom realized that the weekend we will begin this adventure together will be the 20th anniversary of our father’s death. He passed away in a drunk driving accident while he was on a scuba trip in the Florida Keys. My sister was too young to really remember our dad. I, on the other hand, was 12 when he passed away and he was my everything. I admired him so much and truly felt like a piece of my heart left me when he passed away so abruptly. My sister thinks it’s a weird coincidence that the weekend we start is this major anniversary and maybe it is. But I like to think it’s his way of saying “kick fucking ass and have an amazing adventure girls!”
It makes me really sad and angry that my dad left us so early in life. I have always felt like he was the only person who truly understood me and would have encouraged my big, crazy ideas. I am honored every time a family member says, “Jessica is like Mike’s ghost and a spitting image of her father.” I have no doubt his spirit of adventure will live on in me forever and play a big part in me summiting Katahdin. Knowing how much he loved adventure I think he would be so proud of us for doing this. In fact, if he was alive, I bet he would be thru-hiking it with us. Knowing this will help me long after my sister has to say goodbye to me on the trail and I find myself flying solo.
That thought has weighed heavy on my mind lately too. I like to think I am superwoman but I’m not. I am a stubborn and tenacious woman but I know that when my sister leaves me alone on the trail, it will no doubt make me a little sad and take some adjusting for first few days. I am hopeful I will have found a “trail family” by that point so I can lean on them for support and encouragement once she heads home.
I have had so many thoughts running through my mind lately. In fact, my mind is almost always racing and it’s hard for me to stop and be still. This is another reason I am really looking forward to this thru-hike as I am hoping this will help me learn to let my mind be still, to shut out all the noise, and to be completely in the moment. I won’t be focused on clients, social media, opinions, arguing, or anything else and will have only this incredible adventure and beautiful scenery to focus on. Yes, I will be staying somewhat connected and of course posting updates throughout my hike. Yes, I am a very social person so I am not hitting the trail with the intention of being some rogue mountain women and totally cutting myself off from the world (but if that is your personal goal, good for you! I fully support you and mean no disrespect). But I am a social creature and look forward to chatting with other, like-minded adventurers.
“Respect” is another word bouncing around in my mind these days. I am trying not to lose my shit on some people and their lack of respect. I am an extremely passionate person and tend to drop a lot of f-bombs and I have a short fuse when I get into a debate with someone. Lately I have been trying really hard to slow down, regroup, and collect my thoughts. However, consider yourself warned: a lack of respect will yield you the Wrath of Jessica. I have little patience lately with some of the questions and reactions I hear from people once they learn I’m thru-hiking. Those that irk me the most are as follows:
1. You’re Crazy (while rolling eyes).
I’m crazy?! I think you’re fucking crazy. You wake up to an alarm clock blaring at you, go to work, eat dinner, and rinse and repeat daily. Who talked you into that scam?! That shit is crazy! Again, respect is a two way street. If you don’t want my wrath, look at someone else’s perspective and respect it. Stop being so closed-minded and try thinking outside the box. It might just change your life if you let it.
2. What about your husband and daughter?
I’m confused. What about them? My husband is a grown man who is fully capable of holding down the fort. My daughter is an extremely smart and mature 12 year old. I am not ditching my newborn child and joining the circus, people. They will be meeting me for sections of the journey and are fully supportive of what I am doing. This is not their dream, it’s mine. They are excited to support me and be a part of it. This is what a true and strong family does. In fact, I think this will be incredible beneficial to our family for so many reasons. So take a deep breath and relax!
3. Won’t you miss your daughter?
Are you serious? Of course I am going to miss her. My daughter is my everything! She means the absolute world to me. But being a parent does not mean our lives are supposed to completely shut down. Quite honestly, my daughter is at that age where she is growing into her own and she is embracing responsibility and maturing. I refuse to be such an overbearing mother that I drive her away from me. My time away will give her some amazing quality time with her step-dad (who has pretty much raised her) and her father.
4. Well, Have Fun On Your Vacation (said in a condescending tone).
I just really feel bad for the person who says this. It doesn’t even make me angry. I just smile and say, “Thanks.” You just have to hope that one day they will have someone expose them to something like a thru-hike or even a weekend backpacking trip. Until then, they truly will never be able to comprehend what an absolutely incredible journey you are about to embark on. You are just operating on a way higher frequency than they are.
5. That is amazing-I wish I could do that!
GAHHHHH. YOU CAN, DAMMIT. I understand not everyone is in a situation like me – I run my own businesses from home and can take the time to do something like this and I have the support of an amazing team who is helping to keep things running while I am doing this. I am SO grateful for that and them. However, life is too short. Call that a cliché but look at my dad – he was in his thirties and as far as I’m concerned, just starting life when it was taken from him (and from us). That could be me or you tomorrow. I will be fucking damned if I go out with regrets. You shouldn’t either. Please, for the love of God, if this is something that’s important to you, “where there is a will there is a way!” DO. IT. NOW.
If you take anything away from my rambling here let it be the part about thinking outside the box. Traveling and backpacking have truly opened my mind so much. Yes, school and formal education can teach us things but nothing – and I mean nothing – will impact you as much as your own personal experience. And unless you are willing to get uncomfortable, you will never allow yourself to fully experience anything. I am thrilled, scared and ready to be totally uncomfortable within this journey.
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