“She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.” ― Kobi Yamada
It’s been awhile since I posted, my brain has been far too scattered to make tangible thoughts. I have about 12 to do lists and I spend so much time making them and trying not to forget anything that I watch the days fly by on the calendar and find myself feeling immensely unprepared. I will, however, give myself some credit, as FEELING unprepared and BEING unprepared are quite different. I remember the feeling that my start date was so far away, that I didn’t know how I was going to wait so long, and suddenly I’m having one of those “oh shit” moments and I want time to slow down just a smidge. Don’t get me wrong, still pumped, but what the heck? Where did the time go? I can now officially say that I’m leaving next month… Well damn.
As far as what to blog about, I’ve also felt a little stumped. I have an entire folder of ideas, things I want to explore more, posts I know I want to write at some point, etc., but I’m stuck in an odd in between place. I haven’t started my journey yet, so I can’t write about that… I’d love to shout out to some sponsors & awesome companies donating awesome things, but I’d also like to have some on the trail content to go along with it… Though I’m not entirely green on the subject, I feel that my backpacking experience thus far in life doesn’t legitimize any sort of how to hike better post (YET!)… My ‘shakedown’ hikes are a mismatched here and there: hike in the snow now, camp in the cold this night, test out this gear this other day kind of deal. I mean really, I live in Minnesota… Hiking with dogs is another topic I’d like to cover, though I’d again like more time to really formulate that one to be the most helpful for those doing the same.
The list goes on, quite literally. I have a million things I want to write about and yet what I find the most appropriate in this moment is one of those feelings related, tearing pages straight out of my journal kind of posts. That’s actually a pretty good summary of the posts I’ve made thus far… I suppose that’s the type of thing that lands a person with a wimpy trail name. I assure you I’m no wimp, but I am a sharer of my thoughts and feelings. What can I say other than let the journaling begin (or maybe Dear Diary??)…
Last weekend I went to see Wild. I actually read the book a few years ago and loved it. It was honest, raw, and eye opening to the girl (me) who had never heard of the PCT or the idea of long distance backpacking. I was also in a state of personal confusion, so I couldn’t necessarily relate to all that the author was going through, but dare I say I found that I could relate on some basic level? I was inspired; it’s as simple as that. The movie was also good, it peaked my interest in the PCT (uh oh, haven’t even started the AT yet…), and I was entertained. It didn’t strike me with the intensity the book did, but it gave me a visual of something I’d only been imagining in my mind, of the immense challenge I am about to take on. Part of me had another “oh shit” moment as my to do lists flew in wild circles over my glazed eyes; the other part was in absolute awe. Instead of continuing to imagine what I could do with my life, to keep dreaming, I had made a plan; a crazy, ridiculous, amazing as hell plan to essentially quit the parts of my life that weren’t bringing me joy, and to live in the woods with a bunch of other inspired hikers. Ha! For me, this means I’m leaving behind the people, places and things that I know, seeking fresh air, a clear mind and heart, and a new sense of purpose. For nearly everyone else, it simply means I’m crazy.
The second part of the ‘quitting my life’ aspect of this adventure is what comes after the trail, because I won’t be coming back to where I am now. Before I elaborate more on the amazingness of my post AT plans, let me backtrack… So I mentioned that I first learned of the thru hiking culture a couple of years ago, so why now? What changed? Well, a lot has happened since then, but perhaps the most significant event was meeting a man my friends still refer to as Dog Park. (A sort of ‘off the trail’ name, as it stemmed from his first date invitation to bring me and my dogs to the dog park.) What started as just a first date with a guy who aspired to be in the 2014 People Are Awesome video (people are seriously awesome.), turned into the best thing that has ever happened to me. I had already been searching for a way to break out of routine, to have an adventure, to see more of the world and to move out of the Midwest, where I’d lived all of my years until now. This man turned that spark into a flame. Within a couple weeks of meeting him I had dug out my 2012 AT guidebook and the journal (yes – another journal) where I had written my Appalachian Trials lists years ago. That was the moment that all of the stress of finding a new home and beginning a new chapter of my life was lifted. It was the AT, it was the promise of adventure and personal clarity, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that, ultimately, it was Dog Park.
He was in the process of planning for a few months of backpacking through South America (where he is right now!) and I began planning for an AT thru hike. We fed off of each other’s excitement and energy, we helped each other with our plans, shared stories of past adventures, and realized our paths were simply meant to cross. So instead of crossing paths and moving on after our own adventures, we began planning for what would come after. Though spending months apart for each of our endeavors is beyond challenging (another quite necessary future post), we found the idea of continuing on our own afterwards wasn’t nearly as exciting as what those adventures would be like if we shared them. It was around that time that a Sprinter van was purchased. I’m talking a big, white, monster van that will be our home for as long as we decide, post-South America and post-Appalachian Trail. Before I met Dog Park I had no idea that such a community of travelers existed, and that people would willingly choose to live in a vehicle. Now I find myself following a dozen vagabond adventurers on instagram as they travel the country and other parts of the world in a mobile apartment. I am constantly enthralled at the possibilities. Our bucket lists grow ever longer as we realize what this will allow us to do, how it will allow us to see new places, meet amazing people, and to adventure in the most extraordinary way.
At the moment I’m preparing for so many things. I’m preparing for the Appalachian Trail, I’m preparing to explore the country via Sprinter van, and I’m preparing to move out of the Midwest, possibly indefinitely. These three things involve saying some serious goodbyes to family and friends, purging myself of almost everything, intense and detailed planning, and, perhaps most importantly, putting a smile on my face and throwing caution to the wind. Though some of these things make my head spin and some bring tears and heartache, I know that I’m doing what’s best for me. The smile I’m wearing is genuine and the spark in my eyes is from finally living a life in which I feel truly alive.
Thanks Diary. As always, it’s been real.
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