So What’s In My Pack? (not your ordinary gear post)

There are those who say you might carry your fears with you when you embark on your first thru-hike–fears of bears, cold nights, getting lost, not finishing, etc. My fears, as I prepare to start my journey north along the Appalachian Trail in just one short week, are what I’ve been carrying as a part of me for years and my pack seems quite heavy. 

Rather than sharing what tangible items I am taking with me along the way, I am going to share what I carry in my body and mind, and the emotional weight that comes with each.

Multiple Sclerosis

I would consider myself to have some form of a superhero complex, never really allowing myself to accept my diagnosis and just living in denial. But I remember when I was told that there was a chance I could never walk again after a serious flare up, I wanted to prove to myself and others that I would be able to walk once again. Now, I am about to walk over 2,200 miles and I am not doing this to prove that I can to anyone anymore. Instead, I am walking for myself and for others out there who have struggled with this disease. This hike won’t be easy; me and my MS will fight. A lot. But I am not going to let it win.

Mental Health

Impulsive, unpredictable, depressed. Repeat. Then it clicked, I received a diagnosis of bipolar and the world just shifted into a new light where it was time to recognize the importance of my mental health and its relationship with me and others. This hike isn’t an impulsive act. Will this hike be unpredictable? Yes. And will I get sad some days? Yes. But I am ready to embrace this challenge and hopefully come out on top.

Shame

Visibility is a thing I have struggled with for some time now. I have never felt I was in a place where I could open up to everyone that I am a trans man, and shame has become a sense of pain and guilt. Shame even within my own LGBTQ+ community as I’ve felt hidden this entire time. But through this hike, I want to continue to discover who Stephan is and become more visible, hopefully shedding that sense of shame and embracing myself fully, welcoming him into the world.

Take the walk with me if you’d like and see how each of these parts of my life will be affected during my hike, but don’t worry, you’ll get all the good (and bad) parts of life on the trail as well. The food, the poops, the gear, and everything else in between. 

 In one week, I will finally be able to begin a dream that has been in the works for years and as I welcome the experience, the growth, and the excitement ahead, I am eager to see my pack weight shift along the way. With every step that I take, the change is inevitable and I invite you along the way. 

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Comments 1

  • pearwood : May 15th

    Stephen,
    A heavy pack indeed. Trying to figure out just who you are is a challenge, but a necessary one.
    Go for it!
    Blessings on your way,
    Steve / pearwood
    https://thetrek.co/author/steven-tryon/

    Reply

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