The Long Trail Deployment
New Travel Plans
We are leaving Michigan for the Pacific Crest Trail late at night on Thursday, June 30th. The new plan has us heading up north and crossing the Mackinaw Bridge under the cover of night. With the 4th of July weekend starting at the same time our journey is, it seems logical to cross the bridge before all the other Michiganders do. Our chosen road trip to Washington state will take three days of travel and pass through the northern most United States, States I have never been to, which in and of itself is fist-pump worthy.
The new hiking plan is to start northbound from The Bridge of the Gods on July 5th, which is on the Oregon-Washington border. Snow turned our original plan to shit. Hiking from the Washington-Canada border is more possible today than it was three weeks ago, but still, not a situation Brianna and I want to put ourselves in. This new plan cannot completely sidestep the snow, only time can do that, so the real purpose of this approach is to buy time. The first four days of hiking *should* be mostly clear of snow, buying us four more days of melt before reaching the deeper snowpacks of Indian Heaven Wilderness. In the event the Indian Heaven Wilderness cannot be safely hiked, Penny and Curt will be there to pick us up.
This past week has brought to me a lot of feelings I had not thought to feel, however much sense they might make now. With all of the people in my life asking to see me one more time before I go away, it’s brought back a lot of predeployment military memories. Choosing to go on a 3-4 month hike through the mountains IS NOT the same as going on a 3-4 month deployment to Pakistan, or the 14 months I lived in Kuwait, but it does have a lot of the same feelings. Kiss your dog goodbye and tell your friends you love them because it’s going to be a while.
The 2002 & 2004 versions of myself would have had a hard time understanding why I would sign myself up for a voluntary deployment away from everything I know and love. It occurs to me that this similarity could be one of the healing factors for veterans seeking to recover on the trail after wartime experiences. As enlisted Airmen/Sailors/Marines/Soldiers, we didn’t have any control over when we left, when we could go home, or anything in-between. Much of what happens while out on the trail is out of our control, too, but we at least have the power over why we are there, have the power to leave if we so choose.
Even if you believe that all control is an illusion, the absence of control is most certainly not.
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