Riding the Emotional Pre-Trail Roller Coaster
I’m a bit over a month away from starting the PCT and guuuurl… it’s been a wild couple of weeks!! My mental state has been oscillating between sheer excitement and complete overwhelm and feelings that I’m in way over my head. I’ve found that what helps the most is talking about it. A couple of my coworkers are also doing thru-hikes this year, and it’s been amazing to talk with them about how we’re all feeling. Pssst… we are all feeling the same things!
Embracing the Chaos
Of all the things I’ve learned over the past few years, learning to embrace the chaos has probably been one of the best lessons. In any instance where you are venturing outside of your comfort zone, there is bound to be some unease. In any case, those feelings are temporary and are all part of the process and experience. At the very least, it feels like it’s a good way to learn how to roll with the flow.
Having a Plan That’s Not a Plan
I’ve always been a planner (and overthinker, but that’s not the point…). I always had to have everything figured out before I did anything – analysis paralysis to the max! One of the things I’ve been trying to overcome the last few years is the need to have everything just so. There’s a certain freedom in learning to let go. Things have never not worked out in one way or another. Things will work out the way they’re supposed to.
One of the intentions I set for myself in planning my hike on the PCT is to not over plan. I’ve been told by many people that no matter how much you plan, plans tend to go out the window once you get on trail. I also wanted to afford myself the opportunity to experience the uncertainty of a thru hike. “I’ll figure it out later” became a common saying for me. Yes, I have a rough itinerary with potential resupply points, but it’s mostly for a way to give my family estimations. My current plan is a starting point that will adapt as I hike.
All the Feels
One of the most beautiful and tragic things that I recently realized is that everything that I’m feeling currently is fleeting. Once I get on trail, I’ll have started my first thru hike. This is all temporary. I will never get to experience the jitters before a first thru-hike. After I get off trail and every trail I start after, I won’t ever be a “first-time thru-hiker.” All of these feelings and emotions are new for this experience. Learning to embrace the good and the bad makes the experience that much more meaningful.
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