Dear Team, I Have Something to Tell You

Tomorrow’s a big day in my PCT preparation. It’s finally time to share the news!

In 12 hours, I’ll be sitting at a conference table at work with my team. It’s the same table in the same room where we’ve met every Tuesday and Friday morning for the past seven years. Tomorrow’s meeting will end differently, though. That’s when I’ll tell them that I’m leaving them next March to take a long walk. 

Breaking the News

I’ve been silently rehearsing what to say all day. I still have no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth tomorrow morning. 

“So, a funny thing happened on the way to work this morning. I decided to walk to Canada!”

Nope.

“It’s not you; it’s me.”

Ugh. No.

“Hey, have you guys seen that movie Wild?”

Not a chance.

Team = Family

I think they’ll understand because, for the past seven years, my team has been my family. They know that when the mountains call, I really must go. They’ve listened to me prattle on about snakes, catholes, and that huge 2019 Sierra snowpack, just when I finally got approved for a John Muir Trail permit. (They also tolerated my obvious disappointment in 27 JMT permit rejection emails.) When I disappeared with my backpack for a few weeks every summer, they picked up the slack at the office.

I also think my team knows my heart has been in the backcountry for some time. And I hope they know that same heart breaks a little to leave them. The things we’ve learned from one another—like the immeasurable value of blending high expectations and unconditional support—will be with me for every one of the six million steps I’ll take between Mexico and Canada next year. I’ll be the one with Altras on the ground, but they’ll all be there, too, in a certain way. At the very least, I feel confident that summoning up memories of our many robust “would you rather” debates around the lunch table will make me laugh loud enough to scare all of the bears away. 

What If

Of course, there’s always a little voice that whispers, “But what if they aren’t the people I think they are?” What if they don’t understand? What if they think it’s irresponsible or, worse, that I can’t do it? And that, my friends, is one of the risks of committing to the adventure of a lifetime. Yes, it’s a little absurd. But those mountains are calling again. And I gotta go.

Stay Tuned

I expect a mixed bag of reactions tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to share some of the best and the worst. Wish me luck!

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Comments 1

  • Len : Dec 4th

    By now you’ve probably had your meeting at work, I’ll bet you left it laughing. I only wish I would have had the smarts to do the same thing prior to retiring from the grind 2 years ago. At 62, I’ll be starting my NOBO on the AT, also in early March. In following directions outlined in Appalachian Trials, I wrote down what I thought was a pretty thorough list of reasons why I’m doing such a knuckle-headed thing. Here again you outsmarted me with one that hadn’t entered my consciousness — forcing myself to attack one of my biggest character defects and learn to rely on the help of others, Since I haven’t spent a night in a tent in 47 years, I may need to get the advice of one or two folks along the way. Thanks for the great posts and I hope they didn’t bribe you with treasure to stay in the grind. I would have been gone two years earlier had I not taken the bait. P.S., I also grew up on the AT and plan on eating the damn ticks as snacks. Good luck, I’ll be following your adventure while on my own.

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