Apples to Oranges: The Florida Trail
A friend recently pointed out that I don’t update my blog for The Trek as often as I do social media.
The truth is, my depression affects my writing and I struggle to write sometimes.
I feel pressure to express myself solely in a positive light, and I fear the darkness will cast a shadow over my writing.
I’ve learned the best way to face fear is head-on. Growth begins at the end of our comfort zone; the only way to grow out of fear is to acknowledge and address it.
I find that hiking is the best time for these hard discussions with myself. Nature is healing in so many ways.
So as I’m hiking, I ask myself a few tough questions to honestly assess the situation.
I was quick to ascertain that my writing suffered because of my depression but I couldn’t quite figure out why. I mean, after all, I am thru-hiking to help ease my depression.
As the days go on and the miles rack up, the answer becomes more clear: I have to stop comparing this hike to my last.
The tramily, the towns, and abundant trail magic have turned into rare and true solitude, completely new ecosystems, and an irreplaceable tight-knit trail community.
Comparing the two trail experiences is like comparing apples to oranges. The two simply cannot be compared.
Each trail has so many wonderful things that make its respective trail special.
I would be sorely disappointed that I didn’t see an alligator if I expected to see one on the Appalachian Trail, amiright?
I’m learning that expectations can really ruin the experience, and it’s better to hike without them.
I’m learning to be open to new experiences and not classifying one as “terrible” simply because it’s different from what I learned on the AT.
A few examples:
Swamps and wet feet—hello, welcome to Florida. Obviously I should have been a little more prepared for this.
It’s flat—again, it’s Florida. We aren’t here for the mountains.
Again, apples to oranges. The wet hiking and the different terrain are what make this trail special.
But honestly it’s all in my mindset. I can either whine (and/or quit), or I can embrace the suck and all of its beauty. I can accept that this trail is completely different from the last, meaning, the experience and the “suck” are going to be completely different too.
It’s so funny how all of this seems so obvious, but I still find myself in the rut of longing for a similar experience I had on my last thru-hike.
I am proud of myself for facing this struggle head-on, and sharing it with anyone who it resonates with.
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