Embracing the Suck
To be completely honest, the past few days have sucked fully, totally, and majorly. The Sierra Nevada have kicked my butt in the biggest way and have left me wondering if I’m the type of ultralight, waterproof cloth cut out for trekking from Mexico to Canada. After two full months of walking from sunup to sundown, the novelty of thru-hiking has Peace Tea-d out harder than a downed Razzleberry 16oz. I sit here today atop Donohue Pass wondering if I have officially found myself in the center of a Vlasic Kosher Dill Spear: the middle of a pickle.
Nutella, Raisins, and Post-Holes
My left big toe politely decided it doesn’t want to work anymore and has gone completely numb. My legs are scratched from thorny bushes and scraped up, scarred, and bruised from rock debris and ice chunks. The rest of my body feels on the verge of collapse most days. This could possibly be from the sheer amount of Nutella I’ve been consuming by the spoonful followed by the diet of a college freshman with bountiful helpings of Ramen as a night cap but who’s to say. Upon removing my shoes and socks at the end of a day, both feet resemble white, waterlogged raisins after spending the majority of each day soaking in puddles leftover from mashed potato snow field crossings and river fords. The amount of fences that could have been built between the waist-deep post-holes created by my legs rocketing through snow crust on most passes could easily stretch the length of the San Joaquin River. Twice.
Can I do it?
Some days, it feels like I’m not up for this lifestyle. Waking up to a frost-coated tent, peering out into the chilly morning air where my breath forms into icy cloud puffs makes me want to curl up and never leave the safety of my semi-soaked sleeping bag. Being around people crushing 30+ mile days while I’m struggling to get through 20 is a bit of a bummer if we’re being honest. I want to be up for it, nailing multiple passes a day while still getting into camp before sunset but my body is done. Shot to heck. Wrecked from ascending and descending thousands of feet each day through rivers, snow, dirt, and wind.
Perhaps I was destined for a life of frequenting coffee shops and grabbing post work drinks with friends while design deep diving in the evenings. Perhaps I should be warm back home, watching movies and cuddling up with my boo thang. Perhaps I should be drinking morning coffees on familiar balconies while watching the sun light up downtown. Why did I decide that I would carve out six months to complete this wild task? A small part of me wonders if I can do it. If maybe I should cut my losses and call it a day, heading back to my normal life where steaming hot chai teas are served in white ceramic mugs in coffee shops with floor to ceiling windows.
The Lowlight Reel
Photos don’t show the lowlights. They don’t boast the wet, soggy feet, the loose toenails, or the dirt-caked ankles because #gross and no one wants to see that. Thru-hiking sucks. But through the suck, it will be one of the greatest things you will ever do. It’s not pretty or clean. It’s hard as hell, mental toughness that must be renewed each day to climb that mountain, summit that summit, pass that pass. I know my head will clear from this fog and hop out of this mindset, switching back to the space where I’m stoked to wake up each morning and crush big miles through stunning scenery. But there are days like these days and pushing through them is the only way to achieve the end goal. Everyday won’t be sunshine and rainbows. Acknowledging that bad days are bound to happen and making the conscious decision to rebound and hike another day is how you do hard things.
Here’s to Doing Hard Things
So here’s to doing hard things. To pushing through the bummer days to get to the radical. Social media and photos show off the good stuff. From one human to another, here’s to voicing that things sometimes majorly suck behind the scenes and that talking about them makes people feel less alone. Hiking is rad and being outside for extended periods of time is the coolest. Nature will blow your mind and gift you with sights, smells, and sounds that will bring you to your knees in the best possible way. But there’s also tough parts and hard parts and parts that will push you beyond your limits. You’re not alone and I promise others have been in your wet, river-soaked shoes. Hike another day, crush another mile, somewhere along the way, the bad days will turn good again. I believe in you. You’ve totally and completely got this.
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