It’s the Final Countdown!

And so it begins, the waiting. It is March in Saskatchewan, very much still winter here. I am counting down the days before my Appalachian Trail thru-hike start. It is exactly three weeks today from my start date and there’s some real powerful emotions flowing through me. I am excited and literally pacing around the house as my heart races a mile a minute.

My gear list is complete. Suitcase is packed which includes some resupply. Some gear items are waiting in the US to save duty and shipping to Canada.  My gear is dialed in with a sub-15-pound base weight. Some of my re-supply boxes are included inside my suitcase of which are supplements, food, and toiletries. I will mail these to a few hostels. For the sake of simplicity, I won’t be sending myself more than five boxes and will do most re-supplying while in town. So the work seems like it’s finished for the most part. Now just the mental preparation which includes waiting to hike. Movement gives me freedom and peace. Once I am hiking the anxiety will melt away, I will be fine. So now the hardest part, the waiting.

Waiting, for me, feels like the hardest part. It is taking an emotional toll on me. The anxiety and doubts creep into my head, Am I strong enough, will I end up hating it, will I cry in the middle of the forest alone and scared? Then there is this guilt about leaving my pets and family and missing my friends. And then there is some guilt about having the privilege. The privilege of being able to just fuck off and be away forest for five or six months. There is also sadness about this international conflict that began 9 days ago. I fear for the people caught in war, the ones trying to get out, and the ones who don’t make it. I feel so much sadness because I get to take the journey of my life while millions are just trying to journey to safety.

How am I coping with this adrenaline cocktail of excitement and worry? I’m practicing mindfulness and finding a purpose for my hike rather than making it just about me and instead, channeling my energy towards raising money for an organization that helps orphaned children in war-torn Ukraine. And so it goes, I am raising money for”Help us help.” I’m not asking for money directly but asking you to check out this organization or research your own charity to help in Ukraine, here.  I feel so much sadness for Ukraine, which has deep roots inside my province, and I just have to help any way I can. The situation overseas teaches me ordinary people can do heroic things, and it’s super inspiring. It makes my 2200 mile long hike seem doable if it is done with real purpose.

My purpose is a future for peace and for refugees to be safe. I understand it may not be appropriate to express political views, but watching a village together stand up to a brutal oppressor is something I haven’t been witness to since the students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, so I will say no more. But if you are a hiker, consider finding your purpose for good, whatever that may be for you. Anyhow, that is my purpose for my hike: humankind and world peace. Glory to Ukraine.

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