Reflecting Back & Looking Forward in Washington
This Reflection was written prior to my finishing the trail on September 3rd, 2022.
Some days I wonder what it would be like to be back in the desert. I long to wake up early in the morning, the air already warming around my feet as I slip on my shoes, and hike up and down hills of dirt and sand. I long to nap next to cacti, snack on gummy bears while watching the lizards, and sleep like a cowboy under the stars.
There are many days I miss the Sierras. I miss being surrounded by jagged mysterious mountains and climbing daily over their passes, getting a parallel look of what lies ahead and what I am leaving behind. I miss diving into ice-cold lakes and finishing my day with a comforting cup of cocoa before climbing into my tent.
On the rare occasion, I wish to be back in Northern California, the section where the idea of quitting tempted me regularly. But despite the burnt black forests and the steep ascents on boiling hot days, I found comfort in the routine. I wish especially to return and finish the last miles that were set ablaze before I could reach them.
And of course, I think fondly of Oregon. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the greenery, huckleberry bushes, quirky trail towns, and looming volcanos? I look back on the long 30-mile days and wonder what it would be like to return on a weekend trip, no agenda or fear of expanding fires to push me along.
But today I find myself in Washington, getting closer and closer to the border, the marked end of the linear journey. Every day I am enamored by the ridges, mountains, and rushing rivers. Blueberries and blue lakes tempt me; steep passes and tired feet challenge me.
I look back at where I’ve come from, thinking fondly of the people I have met and the miles I have walked. I wish simultaneously for this journey to never end and return to the comforts of home. My body is stronger than ever but also tired and fatigued. It is in need of long naps and fresh food but also feels just at home in nature now as it did indoors before. I have adopted a new rhythm of life and the longer I spend on trail, the more I wonder how I will ever return to life after it.
The end of an adventure is bittersweet and it is never easy to sit with the anticipation of a big transition. In advance of these things, I am taking time to look back on where I’ve been and remain present with the experiences of the now. It would be easy to dwell on the future post trail. Prior to my hike, I imagined I would spend my time in the final trail towns applying for jobs and fretting over upcoming bills.
The looming fear of the future and questions of what comes next definitely threaten to dominate my last miles. However, there is something empowering about stepping away from this. There are still miles to be hiked and memories to be made on my PCT journey. As I look back on the different sections of the trail and wrestle with the urge to cling on tight, running away from an impending ending, I know I must stay focused on the beauty of the now. Canada is just around the corner, but for now, I am still in Washington; I am looking forward to discovering what else it holds.
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Happy you have successfully completed this chapter of your life. I so enjoy the power of your words. Wishing more avenues appear to share such with others. You have traveled great distance with many sights and experiences. Thank you for sharing the power of your inner journey. Looking forward to your next adventure.
What a series of amazing accomplishments! …both grand, and – in the context of the monumental overall goal – seemingly mundane. Like…oh, I don’t know…like summitting Mt. freakin’ Whitney?…! “Oh, THAT? That’s just what we did LAST week.” (Methinks thou art sufficiently “humble”.)
But I realize your journey doesn’t – in fact, CAN’T – depend on what I think. I can only hope that you can agree with me.
If you have ever read Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”, you will have realized how truly heroic your young life has already been.
Wishing you all the best as you continue your journey!