1,000 Miles of Confliction
“Hike your own hike”. For such a common phrase to throw around, it’s not as simple as its made out to be. Especially for an excruciatingly indecisive person as myself. I want to share some brief thoughts with you, reader. Thoughts that have been festering for 1,000(+) miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Sharing a bond with friends on trail is a special experience. Through hell you will go together. Mud, rain, heat, mosquitoes; a friendship forged through fire. You will also share incredibly euphoric moments: Witnessing sunrise atop Mount Whitney, after a moonlit hike; Cooking and sharing a homemade meal in town; these are the moments that can bring pure happiness. As the trail ebs and flows, changes come and go, and suddenly your friends are nowhere to be seen. Hundreds of miles, or maybe only a dozen could separate you.
To wait (or speed ahead) to be reunited means the possibility of drastically altering your time-frame on trail. I love to hike big days, approaching 40 miles. But I also love my trail family. There lies my conundrum, as with many other hikers – “should I stay, or should I go?”. Ultimately, there will be amazing people ahead of and behind you. But there is always, from my perspective, either an individual or group, that I enjoy hiking with most.
I have had a particularly difficult time focusing on what matters most to me on trail: the trail. That’s not to say it hasn’t been an incredible journey so far. But as I began to accept the changes for what they were, it became easier to watch friends come and go. It might not be sooner rather than later, but the element of surprise is almost always at play. You might see a face you haven’t seen in a few days, or weeks, or even months. Crossing paths again can be a wonderful thing, and often the time away makes the bond grow stronger, in a sense.
As I lie in bed at a hostel, writing this, I can’t help but feel that confliction. I was never great at hiking my own hike. I miss my friends more than I thought possible. But the trail will provide in ways you might not expect, and the only thing I can think of to do is to keep hiking. So for now, it’s “see you later!”, not goodbye.
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