Pre-Hike Jitters and the Meaning of Life?

My name is Paul, also known as Strap On. In 32 days, I will be beginning the Pacific Crest Trail. You know, there’s a lot of feelings that go into something like that and anxiety/excitement starts to kind of build up. It’s like you start to feel homesick before you’ve actually left home.

FOMO and WorriesPaul and TOm

The pre-FOMO kicks in. I’m sad that I will miss out on times with my friends, my family, and my partner while I’m gone all summer until fall. I’m sad and worried about my place of employment and how they will fare without me while I’m gone for four to five months. The thing that makes me feel the worst is leaving behind my little brother Thomas. He is 19 years old and has Down syndrome. My fear is that he might not understand why I’m leaving or where I am and that he’ll miss me. Of course, he won’t be alone, and I know that. He’s a social guy. He’s a part of sports teams and social groups and we have three other siblings that love and care for him along with my two spectacular parents.

Anticipation and Excitement

That just about covers things that I’m nervous about. Now to go over all of the things that I’m excited for. I find thru-hiking to be the best lifestyle modern-day first-world people can have. Obviously, I’m very privileged and I’m very grateful that I can take time off work and go walk across the country for four to five months.

Health Benefits and Community

The lifestyle provides so many things that I think are really important for mental health and the health of your body. For example, I am excited to be well-exercised. Sitting in a cubicle five days a week is not what the human spirit craves, in my personal opinion. And, of course, being well-exercised is good for your mental and physical health. Another aspect that I think makes the lifestyle so appealing is being surrounded by like-minded people who are on the same journey as you, who have the same goals, you know, to get from one place to the other.

You go from a life which, for me, is very screen-time-driven, and can sometimes lack good social interactions. But on the Trail, that’s not an option. Life becomes simplified. You have three things you really need to do in a day: you must walk, you must eat and drink, and you must sleep. Out in the real world, there are so many more responsibilities, and none of them are really for survival. They’re just a part of a collective societal imagination. I’m not saying I could survive without society. I’m just saying it’s not what the human program was really meant to do. People were meant to be nomadic and a part of communities. We weren’t supposed to be this sedentary, and in an age where life, at least for me, has become less and less about community, thru-hiking feels like getting back to what it means to be a human being.

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Comments 3

  • Charron Carli : Mar 29th

    Excited for your journey! I hope one day to feel all that being out there brings you, Connection and health. I hope you have the best journey.

  • Tamara Reynolds : Mar 29th

    Thoughtful piece; it will be fun to hear reports throughout this process.

  • Cameron Husain : Mar 30th

    Stoked for you buddy!


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