Comfortably Uncomfortable: The Search to Feel at Home
Cut to an AT memory: The Tavern in Hot Springs, North Carolina. Picture the hiker filled bar (Pre-covid, obviously), and good music is playing over the speakers. Another hiker and I are sitting at the bar speaking fondly about the few days we had hiked thus far, and as we talked, my favorite thought process that has ever left my mouth spawned. I said out loud to Samwise (another class of 2018 hiker), “I did two 20 mile days back to back, I found myself, and I love myself.”
With that in mind, anyone who has ever pushed their own body’s limits and succeeded must understand that real sense of accomplishment I felt, but it was more than that. I had found a version of myself that felt more like home than I could ever explain. I found a life that I felt belonged to me.
Now don’t get me wrong.
I come from a very supportive family that has always allowed me enough freedom to explore who I am as an individual, in addition to affording opportunities for me to learn and grow. My family played a crucial role in the success and completion of my Appalachian Trail hike, as well as moving me halfway across the country afterward. Thanks again, Mom and Dad! (awkwardly waves into the webcam).
Oh yeah, it wouldn’t be an intro without a little excerpt about me. Hi! My name is Madison; my trail name is Hiccups!
Cursed in the eighth grade with hourly hiccups. I made a small joke about the likely hood of Hiccups being my trail name with the ranger at Amicalola, and behold, three weeks on the trail later, it stuck! I graduated from college early so I could complete the Appalachian Trail in 2018.
I had started as a solo hiker, but I did not finish that way. I met a man in the super-fast undetailed version; we liked each other enough to hike together and eventually moved into an apartment in Austin, Texas, after it was all said and done. His trail name was Cado or Avacado formally. We might be rebranding his trail name. However, the glorious story of us will have to take a back burner for now. Stay tuned for a whole separate post. And yes, he will be hiking the PCT with me.
As a result, we are moving on to my next big hike, with the mindset to finish all three trails for the Triple Crown, and the AT will be a personal wealth of knowledge to move successfully up the west coast.
The AT is done.
I walked it, I talked it, and I did the dang thing! With that, I gift the internet, and you, the few that chose to read this, my reasons for doing the PCT, The Pacific Crest Trail, the best of the west.
I’m thru-hiking the PCT because…
- I was taught to chase dreams, not sleep on them.
- I miss the simplicity of two decisions.
- Walk or don’t walk.
- I feel comfortable being uncomfortably sore and dirty.
- I am experimenting with new activities like blogging, high altitude hiking, and snow hiking.
- To test the limits of daily mileage.
- I love a good challenge.
- The trail culture is one I find comforting.
- And let’s face it, talking about the trail when you are done is THE BEST!!
Also, in case no one ever told you to put a thru-hike on your resume, here is your hint!
If I give up…
- I am a very prideful person and would never be happy with myself.
- My anxiety would spike.
- I would give up a lot more easily on other challenges in life.
- I would get to see my pets sooner.
What terrifies me…
- Mountain Lions
- Freezing to Death
- My pee freezing while I pee in the snow
- Feeling inadequate
- Letting down those that are cheering me on
And lastly, what truly terrifies me is the pressing fact that the world is still in shambles, and at any moment, PCTA could revoke my permit. That stated, it is slightly selfish doing a thru-hike this year. However, this would and could be my only year for a long time to complete a five-month trek.
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