Day three is when it kicked in for me… the roller-coaster of thru-hiking emotions that evidently, given the right attitude, lead to tears of joy.
The morning was tough.
The uphill on the coaster was a moderate climb made grueling by the relentless Southern California sunshine. The past six years spent in Seattle have made me weak in the sun, that’s for sure. I’m hoping at some point the olive-skinned Portuguese girl lying dormant inside of me will take over, and I will have an additional line of defense against the blazing orange demon in the sky that is making easy climbs so difficult.
At the top of Mt. Laguna, things turned around.
The smell of pine filled the air with the presence of… trees! I welcomed the shade and plopped down in the grass to elevate my swollen feet. So far, the desert has been full of surprises: greenery, towns close to the trail, and, unfortunately, heat rash.
I plugged in my headphones for the very first time while on a hike. While listening to the mellow guitar of Jerry Garcia, I broke into an uncontrollable smile.
I, we, thru-hikers, have figured out something important. In life you have been given choices and tools, and you can decide to make the choice to use these tools to be happy. Walking in the shade of the pine trees in the alpine Laguna desert, I came to the realization that I have the tools to be happy.
When you decide to hike a long trail, you are largely advocating for yourself.
You are choosing to put your career on hold, not be around your dog, and gearing up for a world of foot pain. With a cocktail of selfishness, bravery, and ibuprofen, you aim to become a better version of yourself. Thru-hiking is much more than beautiful scenery that requires days of hiking to see.
Reconnecting with the earth by reconnecting with yourself. You take on challenges as they come, and problem solve through them. It’s a minimalist approach to experiencing life. It’s a lavish approach to adapting to change.
It’s dropping everything you know to feel uncomfortable and grow.
So cheers to you for reading this blog.
You’re taking one of the first steps toward happiness by engaging with your interest of the trail. Whether it be for two miles, or 2,000, taking the time to be outside and connecting with nature is a DIY remedy for a successful and happy life, because you are doing something for yourself.
But then again, maybe the true positivism of day three comes from knowing there will be an ice cold beer waiting for me in town.
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