The Road to Mountain Warrior Goddess
I got to Brown Gap and was feeling good. I had planned to meet my friend Red Eye there for the night but I had a few more miles in me and the iconic Max Patch so close, it called me on. I knew I could make it before dark and I had dreams of cowboy camping on the bald and enjoying a sunset, sunrise and bright stars in a wide sky. What I got was a rain storm, a gray sky and a lesson.
Half a mile before the Max Patch summit I ran into some trail magic. Previous thru hikers were set up with a grill and cold beers. I asked if it was real and they assured me it was. Excited and relieved I was half way through my second hot dog when the sky broke open and the rain came. The wind came. The sun disappeared and the sky grew dark immediately as the rain slanted sideways.
I felt a pang in my heart because I hadn’t set up camp and knew it wasn’t going to get better.I was in for the night. Three of us huddled together under a tarp, I closed my eyes. When I did I could hear my intuition, in a split second I made the decision to set up my tent. No part of my wanted to, but I knew now was the time. The longer I waited the worse it would get. As quickly and calmly as I could I tore through my pack and grabbed what I needed.
My hands were shaking, I couldn’t clip the buckles on pack and the rain fly was on backwards. I knew the longer I took the more wet everything would get and the more wet my stuff was the more chilled I would be through the night. Not just this night but I was 2 more days away from town, I would be wet until then. This felt important. This felt like a test. I stayed calm and flipped mt rain fly back around. TI used positive self-talk to stay relaxed and work quickly.. I focused hard on keeping my sleeping bag and dry clothes out of the rain and the moment I got into my tent and out of wet clothes I felt total relief. I would be dry for the night, I would be ok.
My biggest fear out here is getting stuck in bad weather by myself. After that night, after setting up my tent on my own in inclement weather, after keeping what I needed dry, after keeping myself calm, I know I can handle it. I know how to get my tent up fast, how to cook hot food and filter water. I know how to get myself warm and dry. I have my beacon and my back up charger. I got me.
I have had so many amazing moments on the trail already. Moments of friendship, unbridled laughter, challenging climbs and breath taking views and the universe loves me kind of feelings. I have had trail magic when I needed it, rides from kind strangers, and moments where I can’t believe I met my friends 4 days ago because the friendships already feel nostalgic and golden. I have crossed 3 state lines and walked myself 270 miles. I have had amazing feelings, but nothing compares to the feeling that I am the person I can trust. Nothing compares to knowing I have the skills, the gear and the composure to keep myself safe in a storm. That I am learning to trust myself , this night felt like a litmus of the growth I have experienced, tangible proof I am becoming Mountain Warrior Goddess. That by myself, on my own, I am going to be ok.
Everyday on the trail is like a choose your own adventure book.You are constantly making decisions that will effect your entire experience, how many miles you hike, where to camp, who to spend your time with, where and when you stop for water. Taking a ride or hiking on, hunkering down or pushing forward. It all shapes everyday, every choice changes the direction and dictates who you meet and what your experience will be. You will always be missing out on something but always experiencing something else. It can feel like a lot of pressure to make the right choices and the FOMO can cause you to question yourself.
I have traveled by myself before, I have moved to new states and countries on my own. I am used relying on me but this is different. This is more. I am learning to be at peace with the decisions I make. To release the FOMO and accept the present. To be in the moment and not to question the what ifs, or what others are doing. You hear so many voices telling their plans and predictions, even in the wilderness there is noise, I am learning to tune into my own intuition, tune out what others are doing and to trust myself above all other sources. That feels huge, empowering and like what I came out here for.
Yesterday I faced another choice. Camp in the rain a 4th night or put my head down and make it to town. For 20 miles with 2 new friends I walked in the rain. I walked on ridge lines. I walked through dark and rain. Soaked through, I walked until 11 at night. I asked for more from my body and my body delivered. I told myself the miles where there and the only way out was through. I could wait but I would still have to do it tomorrow. I decided that if I was already wet my best choice is to keep moving. That is how I would stay warm. I just kept pushing, past shelters and camp sites. I turned the corner into Hot Springs to find there were no available rooms. It was late and I was so tired. Just as my heart sank I came across 2 trail friends with extra space in their rental house,laundry, hot showers and coffee because, well, the trail provides.
Those 20 miles were definitely not the easiest, prettiest or most comfortable but I was smiling almost the whole time. They were not the easiest but they were the richest. They were a test and I passed. They were a lesson that I needed. They were worth more than the easy sunny miles because they gave me something. They gave me the piece of mind that I can do it. They let me know I am becoming the woman I came out here to be.
I’m not going to get ahead of myself, I know how much is in front of me. There will be so more challenges. There will be more tests. And I have a feeling they will keep getting harder and harder. The second you get comfortable the trail throws you a curve ball. When you get cocky, the trail will humble you. I’m not a Warrior Mountain Goddess yet, but I am on the road, not just on the road but loving the journey. I can feel the progress, the growth, the rising up. The trust in myself, the calmness, the beauty and so, so much gratitude. And I have to say, it feels damn good.
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