Three Friends, Two Hikes, One Week
Do you know the feeling you get when you spend months planning for an incredible adventure and then suddenly the adventure is only a week away? When life is on simmer, everything is building up slowly but suddenly, the pot full of butterflies, excitement, anxiety, packing up, and goodbyes is now at a raging boil? In one week I will be taking off with three of my dear friends to start our second thru-hike together. Did I mention the butterflies in my belly?
In 2018, I was lucky enough to spend most of my Appalachian Trail journey hiking alongside the sweetest humans. Three of those sweet humans, Peaches, Professor, and Big Money, have decided to continue their thru-hiking adventures on the other side of the country and start the same day as me, May 4! I am not too familiar with the trails along the PCT, so I definitely take comfort knowing that I will have some familiar faces there at the start.
Having already completed a thru-hike, I often find myself comparing one trail to the other. Or creating expectations for the PCT based off my experience on the AT. The past month or so has been about letting that go and allowing this to be a brand-new adventure.
The past month has also been about reconnecting with why I am thru-hiking. Beyond hiking to raise money and awareness for HIKE for Mental Health, I keep asking myself why I am venturing out again to live in the woods for four to five months. Being fully transparent, I have found myself getting caught up in the selfish side of thru-hiking. Asking questions like: “Am I blogging enough?” “Is my gear light enough?” “Am I connecting with the right people and companies?” “Am I sharing enough of my story online?” This mind-set turned something so enjoyable and free-spirited into more of a job. And I sure as hell had to check myself, and my ego, to get rid of this mentality.
So, Why Am I Hiking?
Today, Peaches and I went out with a group of rad women who I connected with via Women Who Hike, a group I found through Instagram, to hike Mount Minsi.
Side story: Peaches and I hiked together in the Smoky Mountains for only two days (which is basically five years in hiker-time) and then she had to get off trail to go to a wedding. After about 1,000 miles, we serendipitously reunited at a campsite just south of Mount Minsi. From there, we stuck together until Katahdin.
I digress. As a group, we chatted all things from jobs, to lifestyles, to favorite hikes, to hikes we hope to experience, to fears, successes, and failures. Each of us seemed to be pretty unique in our home life: librarian, accountant, yoga instructor, insurance agent, mechanical engineer, mom, and college graduate. But once we stepped onto the trail, we are able to find a bond through exploring nature. Which more often than not, leads to exploring yourself.
And on my way down the mountain I remembered why I am packing up my life yet again to explore the unknown. The community created with complete strangers fills my heart to the brim. The trail reminds me that we are all connected. It challenges me to find the beauty in harsh moments and appreciate the simpler parts of being. The trail presents me with learning opportunities and holds space to grow. Sometimes the point is straightforward, other times it takes four months to figure out. Whatever the journey, be it a flat, superbloom-filled trail with a glistening lake at the end, or be it a steep, rocky path in the 110-degree heat, the best advice I can follow is to stay present and know that the trail will provide.
It is here, folks. My PCT 2019 hike is about to begin and the stoke is high. Big Money has already begun her adventure west via train. Professor takes off soon and will hang out in Southern California for a few days before making it to San Diego. Peaches is here in Pennsylvania helping me pack up my life before we fly out on Friday. FRIDAY! May 3. The next morning we will head to the Southern Terminus and take our first steps on the trail. Yee-haw!
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