Hiking for Healing on the Pacific Crest Trail
Seven months ago I hit an all-time low in life. Unhappy with my career, facing inevitable burnout, staring depression in its dark, ugly face, and having parted from a relationship I never wanted to end. Life had kicked my ass. Defeated and miserable, I was ready to give up. My rock bottom was a weeklong hospital stay and having to go on medicine to battle the sense of doom that I’d waded through for far too long.
For months I’ve sought out help and practiced self-care prescribed by health care providers and some of the best self-help gurus out there. I still struggle, but I’m managing to keep my head above water. Barely. But I’ve never been one to give up, and I refuse to give up now.
Searching my soul for what had previously been a salvation to me, I began to (once again) entertain the idea of doing something radical. Something adventurous. Something that could be life-altering. Recalling my earlier dream of one day thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), I began to see hope. I could feel excitement about something for the first time in forever. I could feel the beginnings of a dream taking shape. Along with getting proactive about my depression and getting back to the basics of life, the dream grew. It started with reading and research. More recently it’s grown to amassing lighter gear and planning finite details like where I’ll resupply and what kind of food I need to eat for a five-month thru-hike.
Now here I am, less than four months away from embarking on a flip-flop hike of the PCT. 2,650 miles to leave behind the darkness and once again find my inner light. I’m taking a chance to make a dream a reality and hope to find healing along the way.
One of the biggest steps of preparation is preparing mentally and psychologically for the hardships of thru-hiking by writing out my “why” for doing this thru-hike, according to Carly Moree and Zach Davis in their book Pacific Crest Trials. Not only writing it out, but sharing my “why” will keep me on track when I struggle on trail with questions like “what the hell am I doing out here!?” and “Why did I think this was a good idea!?” Perhaps it will even be a saving grace if darkness threatens to follow me after the adventure has begun.
So family, friends, and anyone reading, here’s why I’m hiking: I’m hiking for peace and to practice presence. I’m hiking to prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to. I’m hiking toward the light to leave behind the darkness. Completely selfish, but deeply honest. I’m hiking to save myself.
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