The Things We Carry

As I sit in my favorite chair and have my last cup of coffee at home for a while, my eyes drift over to my pack. I see my choices, my hopes, my fears, and my dreams all packed up in front of me. I’m flooded with memories of hiking – Pennsylvania, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Maine, Washington, Kentucky, Utah, Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, Idaho, Wyoming, Tennessee, Hawaii … did I forget any? I’ve put thousands of miles on my feet as I waited patiently (sometimes) for this moment. I really like hiking – in fact, I love it. Will I love it after 2197.4 miles? I sure hope so.

1500+ Hours of Hiking

I have tracked over four thousand miles, 1500+ hours of hiking and 526,000+ feet of elevation gain on AllTrails in the last 3 years. Although I often hike with others, I’ve spent thousands of hours alone in the woods with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. I’ve solved all my problems, created new ones, and even solved a few of the world’s problems as well. All of the daydreaming aside, the real value of the conversations in my head has been the lightness created by choosing some heavy things to set down.

These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.
–  Najwa Zebian

Please Carry This For Me

Today I’m adding some weight to my pack. In the backpacking world weight matters. We’re often advised not to “carry of fears”, to aim for ultralight, and to calculate in grams. And yet – there is no perfect gear list (wouldn’t that be nice?). Each hiker has to figure out their individual needs by asking all the questions, testing gear and adjusting as things change. Ideally they’ll dial it all in before their thru-hike.

So why am I adding things now – at the last minute? I’ve been given gifts to carry. And, although they do weigh a few grams they don’t feel heavy. They are gifts of love, family, protection, friendship, guidance, support and encouragement – all things I will need on this adventure.

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