A Better Version of Myself
I’ve thought about how I want to introduce myself to you many times over the past three months. I’m still not sure which of my many selves I want to present to you. I have many past lives. I have a basketball life. I have a life ruled by substances and alcohol. I have a life with many emotions and anxieties controlled by pharmaceuticals. And then I have a life that I am living now and that I wouldn’t know existed without the revelations that I acquired from thru-hiking.
My last long-distance hike was not planned.
I had started out on a 400-mile section hike and I ended up walking 3,000 miles in one year. I guess you could say I’m an extremist. But my mom would say I’m “just stubborn.”
Because my last hike was not planned, this hike feels like the very first time in some ways. My anxiety has been a big issue for me. In 2016 when I walked 800 miles from Key West to Alabama and 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine, I detoxed from medications I had been taking for a very long time. I learned new coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety and depression. I found a new version of myself that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined. I found inner peace and happiness, and most surprisingly, confidence in that happiness. Slowly, over the past two years, the deep rhythm in my step and the stoic smirk on my face (that I walked away from the trail with) have faded. Reentering society without pharmaceutical crutches was not an easy task, and preparing for this hike without them has been difficult. Sometimes I catch a glimpse back into my previous psyche, and doubt, depression, and rage shine through for brief, but troubling moments.
I try to remind myself that I’ve done this before.
I try to remind myself of the way that time slows down when you’re hiking. I think about the volume of memories that I have from my time on the trail and how it compares to the volume of memories that I have from the rest of my life. I try to be present and take time to reflect on each day like I know I should, like I learned how to on the trail. I know this way of living can’t be forced but I’m ready to live this way again even if I know my time on the trail is limited.
I’m going on a walk from Mexico to Canada to try to find another better version of myself.
My biggest fear is that I won’t finish the trail. I’ve done everything that I can to prepare myself. I’ve worked hard to save the money and I’ve worked hard to train my body but I know that there are greater forces at work and I know that a thru-hike takes a pinch of luck to finish and not just true grit. Only time will tell if I can make it to Canada. I’m going to cherish the journey and thank the Earth for every day it grants my tired feet to slap on it. I’m going to take it as it comes and play it as it lays. I’m trying not to stress about bear canisters and microspikes and ice axes. I’m trying to let my inner f*** it grab the reins and run. That is, after all, how I ended up thru-hiking in the first place.
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Being someone who has also had their life ruled by alcohol and substance abuse, I have to say, kudos to you!!! First of all, for being able to share that with the world, and secondly for all that you’ve accomplished!!! Fighting those demons is a daily grind. If you can conquer that, you can conquer anything!!!
Thank you for sharing and I wish you many safe and happy days, miles, and adventures!!!