Unpredictable, Scary and Savage
When I set off on this journey, friends armed me with advice of all varieties. “Make sure you wear army grade socks”, “Don’t poop in the woods, you might get lost!” and “A wet sleeping bag is a sad sleeping bag” are some of the examples. Essentially everyone I told about my plans had a shard of wisdom that they wanted to me to know. I appreciated all of the support and excitement for my journey, but some of the most useful advice appeared in a note, in a book I was given.
“The woods are unpredictable, scary and savage, but they will show you the light in the darkest of times.”
Nature is a tough fucking place to live – there’s really no other way to put it. I quickly learned that I was at the mercy of my environment. She provides beautiful sunrises as you munch on blueberries one day and then humbles you the next by sending cold rain and blown down trees from the strong winds the night before. And the hardest part of this journey was that I had to keep walking. No matter the conditions or how I was feeling, I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But I guess that’s just how life works too.
I experienced a multitude of outlooks while living in this unique situation. Sometimes it was exactly what I wanted it to be – beautiful and challenging in a way that made me feel strong. I’ll be honest though, sometimes I hated it. My feet hurt and my legs were chafing, or any number of other problems I could have been having. But more likely than those extremes – it just was. Walking on a ridge in Virginia or the woods in Connecticut, there wouldn’t necessarily be anything spectacular to look at. So I’d keep walking south, knowing I was getting closer to the end with every step.
In the final week of this journey, I felt rather at peace.
The lasts began to roll by- town days, big mile pushes, epic views. And I thought about that advice I was given, and that no matter how hard the bad days had been, I made it through them. And I’d like to think I’m better for making it through those days.
I still love the outdoors, and everything they’ve taught me. I’ve learned that I am strong even when I don’t think I am. How to set up my tent in the rain. That I will have to live my life with a positive outlook. That I shouldn’t sleep with my food in bear territory (because guess what- the bears find you!) When I’m feeling down, sing a song. And most importantly, I learned that no matter how bad things get in my life, there are beautiful things in the world, I might just have to walk for a while to find them.
Thank you to the endless love and support I received from so many families in the world- my Kalispell family, SLU family, trail family, and, of course, my immediate family. My parents and brothers got me through some of my hardest days. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Until the next adventure,
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