Sheared like a sheep; a fuzzy, free, soon to be PCT hiker
I shaved my head a month ago. If I were a super hardcore thru-hiker maybe I could attribute my choice to cutting down weight or optimizing my aerodynamics. But my hair wasn’t that heavy, at least not in the literal sense.
In my pre-trip planning for the Pacific Crest Trail, I am not only chopping my toothbrush in half and buying dehydrated food to reduce pack weight, I am freeing myself of mental burdens. Letting go of unnecessary attachments. Clearing away the heaviness of expectation. Choosing to be light, free.
For years I thought “I am going to shave my head someday.” “Someday” finally came for a few big reasons. The first being the forming, and later removal, of a few unwanted dreadlocks. Work trading on a farm for six months in Kauai made a mess of my hair. What was once straight became squiggly. It was a beast to brush. It got gnarly. I became anxious about the state of affairs on my head.
The bigger reason for the chop came with all the ways Kauai changed me from within. I was on a journey of self-love I didn’t even know I needed. I tapped into my deeper self and started living more vivaciously. Working on, and eating from the land. Exploring, frolicking, and befriending amazing people who allowed me to be all that I am. I realized more than ever the beauty of life and the beauty of being me. I knew I would continue to feel beautiful without hair, so it was time to let it go.
The buzz was also compelling before hiking the PCT due to an underlying fear of journeying alone as a young woman. I don’t want to be seen as weak. I don’t want to be scared to camp alone or hitchhike. These fears do not reflect the positive trail culture that I have read and heard so much about, rather it is a gut reaction as a woman growing up in a world where it is often less safe to be alone. A haircut doesn’t combat societal gender issues. But maybe a part of me thought looking a bit “butch” or tough would boost my confidence.
But this journey isn’t about how I look, it is about how I feel.
I am less than 40 days out from my start date at the Southern terminus. A fuzzy-head free-spirited gal with a love for backpacking and connecting with nature. My days are spent pouring through guidebooks and consulting all kinds of gear recommendations. On the sidewalks, among the trees, and in my kitchen, I can be found strutting about in my new Altra trail runners. I am stoked beyond measure!
It has already been a month since the big chop. I can feel breezes directly on my scalp, I no longer use any hair products, and my friends seem to get a kick out of rubbing my head. My head is getting a little fuzzier, a touch wilder. I feel the wild of the California deserts getting closer too.
While living in Hawaii I learned some farmers opt not to have wooly sheep because during rainy seasons they can get waterlogged and become so heavy they fall over and die. It is a rather terrible way to go. And while my reason for shearing my hair was not as noble as life or death, I feel certain now that like short-haired sheep I will make it through the rains, and the intense heat, aching muscles, and everything else the PCT gifts me.
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