The Count Down (Part Two)
Trepidation – Three Weeks Out
Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago if I was excited about the upcoming adventure. I couldn’t think of a word at the time, but I told them it felt more like I felt when I was going to get my wisdom teeth out. I know it will be good for me once it happens, the date keeps marching relentlessly toward me, and the aching nervousness never really subsides.
Excitement happened two months ago. Now it looms. It’s trepidation.
All the chatter is still about the record snowfalls and associated challenges, but I don’t think that’s what keeps this ache going. I’m not nervous. I know I’ll figure it out, skip sections if I must, and sometimes suffer really hard days. I think the trepidation is for the life I’m leaving.
This is on two accounts.
The more easily visible is my handyman/remodel business and hoping it will stay afloat without me. I’ve spent a few months trying to leave it all set up for success, but I’ve had seven years to figure things out. My key players will be trying to apply seven years of networking and learning curve into a few months. It will be a challenge, but I wish them success while I’m out!
The less discernible reason for this constant numbness in my chest is for the life after. When you live life with a routine trajectory, you have an idea of what next year looks like. Right now I’m walking down the Hallway of Life to a closed door. I have no idea what lies behind it, and the familiarity of this hallway is satisfying. There’s nice carpet, the lighting is good, and I like the wallpaper. My friends, family, daily errands and the occasional weekend vacation memories are in the open doorways offering me comfort. With all of that recognizable love and happiness, why would I want to open this door at the end of the hallway? What lies beyond the next six months?
A door I encountered a few years ago that I reaaaaaaally wanted to open or unlock.
Zeal – Two Weeks Out
For the first time in a while I did that thing where I accidentally squealed. It percolated while scrolling through our “start week meetup” subgroup in the Facebook forum. I think I just started feeling more like these people I was about to embark with are turning more and more real; no longer just names and faces for a distant time. It’s all real and it’s all now.
We’re doing it. Dang, it feels good to go back to being excited for a minute!
Calm Before the Storm
Five days out and I’ve felt it all. At this point it’s a calm determination. The anxiety and excitement has culminated in this electric peacefulness. It’s like walking across the carpet to touch the elevator button and knowing there will be a static shock, but that’s okay. There is anticipation without fear.
A Side Note on Snow
You’re going to hear a lot about it this year if you’re reading Trek blogs. A part of me wants to not “add snow to the mountain” (read: add fuel to the fire), but leaving it out also doesn’t feel right. So here are some brief miscellaneous thoughts of mine:
- I picked up a permit for the John Muir Trail for the end of August for me and four other people, in case I am with a group that wants to skip the Sierra when we get there at the end of May. This at least provides us with a reason to opt for safety if we are on the fence. The thing is, with PCT permitting we must maintain a “continuous foot path.” This means that we would need new permits if we flipped ahead and came back, which could be hard to come by. I got proactive and booked these early, and will release them in June if we are feeling like the Sierra section is accomplishable.
- That said, I presently feel strongly that I want to try to at least go from Kennedy Meadows to the Cottonwood Pass vicinity where we exit for resupply at Lone Pine. If this feels good, and people in front of us are making it, I vote for trying the next section to Kearsarge Pass, see how it goes, and so on. This is all said from my kitchen table in March, so take this with a grain of salt for now.
- For peace-of-mind to those at home, I’ll check in every night in the tough sections on my inReach, with a backup plan in place if they don’t hear from me in a certain time frame.
- As for gear, coping strategies, and the like, I think I’ll save that for the forthcoming adventure stories. You’ll hear plenty, so let’s leave it here for now.
5 days. The calendar is full with last tasks and social visits. I don’t really have any time to add anything else. To try to save on “goodbye time,” I set up an open house kind of thing on the day before I leave, so I can pack and do chores while people drop in for an hour here and there.
4 days. Wrapping up loose ends at work. A fancy dinner with friends.
3. One last morning of work, then it’s my last full day at home. A tearful goodbye mid-day with a dear friend. I’m packing and repacking, people are stopping by to say farewell. We grill some awesome food. Many laughs and smiles. I’m overwhelmed.
2. My cousin helps me load boxes into the van. I have a heartfelt goodbye breakfast with my ex (and now good friend) and say goodbye to our pets. I visit my sister and brother-in-law who just lost their pup of fourteen years, so sad. I have so many feelings of caring for all of those I know who are in happy times or sad times. My parents are taking me to the airport. I sit in the back seat having some kind of anxiety attack as my life is about to explode and mom reaches back with a hand on the calf. Tonight I’ll be sleeping in San Diego. I love you and cherish you all.
1 day to go. I’m writing this Sunday morning in San Diego. In a few hours I’ll be shopping for some more trail food, finding a store to print out my California Campfire Permit (almost forgot!), meeting up with a few fellow hikers for coffee, and then heading to CLEEF for the night to camp a mile from the southern terminus. Tomorrow it begins.
Best Wishes, My Friends
This whole build-up has brought some words to mind from Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”…for your listening pleasure:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.
Thanks for reading along with all of my pre-trail thoughts. Just as there are sections on the trail, there are sections in this experience: Preparation, Journey, Reflection. We’ve completed the Preparation. Next stop, the moon.
See you down the trail!
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