Three Biggest Fears of Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
One Tim Ferris idea that has stuck with me is the idea of outlining my fears instead of setting goals. As I talked about during the last blog, the normals think my fears should be getting eaten by bears, running out of food, or getting rained out. I mostly haven’t given those things much thought. The things that wake me up at night are challenging and real.
Marriage is fucking challenging. The best marriage advice I ever got was ‘don’t get divorced.’ No matter what happens, good or bad, just stay committed to the relationship. Be kind, forgiving, supportive, and willing to grow. It won’t be perfect and it isn’t easy. But I would be hiking the AT if I was looking for easy.
I’m tough on my wife. I have high expectations for the people in my life. I’ve already asked her to sign up for a life that has included multiple deployments, and nearly a dozen houses, and to put up with me. Now she’s given me the green light to spend 4 months wandering the western US, where she’ll be responsible for the kids, the house, her job, and two dogs. I know we’ll be ok because we’re in this together. She knows how important this is to me and has never wavered in that support.
I’ve been internally dismissive of the impact it will have on my kids. They’ll be 15 and 12 when I start and have all the things going on in their lives to keep them busy. I know we’ll talk, text, and video chat, but I won’t be there every day for dinner or to say goodnight. I will miss things. But I hope they can emulate my actions someday and take roads less traveled and zig when others zag.
Slowing down my career:
This is 100% going to happen. My last day of work for the Air Force is 28 April and I’m driving down to New Mexico days later. If it was only about finding the next career, I would be starting work that week instead of loading up my backpack.
This is not the optimal way to change careers. Taking the time for this hike has forced me to pass on internships that would have very likely led to employment. But slowing down my career does not mean it is going to be worse. I aspire for this hike to allow me to find something closer to a perfect fit. If a company passes on me because I am backpacking the CDT and won’t drop everything to start right away, then that is not the right place for me. But maybe, just maybe there is a career out there where they value things that thru-hikers go through on the trail. The ability to try new things, thrive with limited resources, and adapt to any situation.
Not wanting to go back:
Great vacations leave you feeling refreshed and looking forward to what’s next. But while vacationing, I ask the question, wouldn’t it be nice to sit around and just travel all the time? My answer is no. Our family vacations are in general pretty active. We’re not mountain climbers or serious bikers, but we fill our time with long walks, exploring new places, and trying new things. But we also find time to read books by the pool and relax. But our vacations have all lacked the same sense of purpose that I often get from my work.
But backpacking every day will be my purpose and I am assuming the connections made on the trail are strong also providing a sense of belonging and worth. The trail will end and I’ll go back, but I fear that I’ll just try and find the time to take the next great adventure.
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