Two Chapsticks Too Many and Other Two Week Reflections
Two weeks on trail and walking 200 miles has left a mark on my heart. It is also left an insane amount of dirt between my toes. There is a lot I have learned from this desert. The mountains are teaching me humility. The scratchy bushes and cacti give me a little redlined reminders of the power of all living things. The big blue sky shows me beginning upon beginnings starting with the rising sun, the invisible rays of heat and the speckled white glowing nights. Beginnings are abundant. Each day I am learning and knowing anew. And somehow too each newness is adding up to something. Each switchback, ramen meal and starry night are stirring a rawness within that is hungry for more of the same. Yes, after two weeks I crave produce and warm showers, but I also wake each day aching for the fruits of the trail, for the next beginning.
I have learned many things in the last 200 miles. I didn’t need two water filtration systems and purifying tablets, nor did I need two lighters and a box of matches when my stove lights itself. I also didn’t need three chapsticks. I ditched extra clothes to reduce weight and found out how much food and water I need for various mileages so I don’t run out (again). I was taught how to properly hold my trekking poles and that leuko tape is meant to stay stuck for several days (learned the hard way with ripping away my top layer of skin). People showed me stretches to heal my knee and practices to prevent further injuries. I cowboy camped for the first time without setting up my tent and I learned to avoid this on windy nights unless I want to relive waking with dirt encrusted on my face. I found myself digging through free hiker boxes to find what I need and I am started crashing in last minute hotel rooms so I can rinse my clothes in a sink. Thru-hiking is a subculture and quickly I am becoming affluent with the lingo and energy. I hardly even smell myself anymore!
I have learned things about myself too. Each day I am tapping into my strength and findings my limits stretch farther than I imagined. The intense climbs between Paradise Valley Cafe and Idyllwild demanded a lot of me on all levels and I pushed through and loved the views along the way. Coming down near Cabazon was equally grueling but I made it through! I am liberated by the vastness around and within me and am taking more time to be creative in my painting and writing. I am finding joy in so many ways. Alone time has been important for me on trail and by spending time with myself I knocking down barriers of fear I thought I needed to have. I can hike alone. I can spend hours alone. I can camp alone and no longer need to sleep with a knife in hand. I am both self sufficient and gratefully dependent on the kindnesses of others and the abundance of goodness on this earth to journey forth.
The trail is becoming part of me. I am rooting myself not to a spot, but to the lattice of trees and wind and mountain sides that are constant reminders of the incredible interconnected nature of life. And as I become a part of the PCT it is melding into me. Anxieties and uncertainties will creep in but I can always ground mysel back on my path. The magic of the trail finds a way to fuel my every need.
Sometimes when the terrain is tough, or the pain is immense it is a constant peppering of self talk. “I can do hard things. Yes I can do this. Keep going. My limits are beyond my imagination…” But it isn’t just my voice, it is the light through the trees and the sweat soaking my shirt that are also reminders of the power of this journey. I am meant to be here in this moment.
The Pacific Crest Trail entertains an energy that is so pure in essence and so abundant that sometimes I cry because of the beauty of it all. I am weighted by packets of tortillas and oatmeal and I am lightened by the magic of each day on trail.
Moving forward I am taking to heart the simple message written on a sticker I bought in Idyllwild: “Allow the unfolding.”
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