My PCT Hike Of Love And Healing
Why am I hiking the PCT? Because of this face right here. Pure happiness. This is a photo of me, in my tent, on top of a mountain, happy as can be. I wish I could bottle that feeling up and save it for forever. But there is more…
Ever since college I have had this feeling, a need for adventure, an urge to go somewhere I have never gone before and experience something new, to continue a journey of self-discovery. I have thought about backpacking through Europe, visiting different countries and partying with new foreign friends. I have thought about becoming an au pair in Australia – that was even my plan right before I graduated college, but due to some family disagreements and a lack of funds that didn’t work out. My need for adventure comes from a burning desire to put myself in an uncomfortable situation, to travel, to see new places, to experience different cultures, to challenge myself and learn. While traveling to other countries is something I definitely want to do in the future, I want something more. I think that hiking the PCT will allow me to do a different kind of self-discovery. I am going to be testing every one of my boundaries, physical, mental, emotional. I want to see how far I can push myself. I want to see what my mind and I are capable of.
This thru-hike isn’t your typical walk in the woods. It’s going to fucking suck… and I mean that in the best way possible. There are going to be days where I am covered in blisters, bruises, scratches, and weird calluses. There are going to be days when all I want to do is go home, eat a giant warm meal and cuddle with my dog in a nice, soft bed. Instead I will wake up, pack up camp, walk 20ish miles a day with everything I could ever need in a backpack – a heavy backpack, eat some food along the way, set up camp again, and sleep. I am going to do this every day for about six months. 2,659 miles. Crazy, right? All I have to do each day is wake up and walk. Walk and find water sources. But there is so much beauty to be seen along the way. Not only in the land but in the people I meet, the learning, and the healing.
My love for hiking has developed quite rapidly over the last two or so years. Hiking provides me a place where I feel whole, a place where I feel the most connected to myself and the universe. It is almost a spiritual act for me. I have done a lot of healing out in the woods, and there is a lot more healing do be done that I don’t believe I can do anywhere else. Not in a doctor’s office. Not on a therapist’s couch. Believe me, I’ve tried.
When I was 18 my younger sister, Jessica, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She was 10. I spent the next 11 moths of my life traveling back and forth from home to college. I went to school on the weekdays and drove home every Friday to take care of my sick sister on the weekends… life wasn’t easy. School was hard, dealing with my parents’ alcoholism and denial of my sister’s diagnosis was even more hard. I’m not even sure my parents remember much of those 11 months. In March 2012 Jessica died at age 11, two months before her 12th birthday. There were many beautiful moments in those 11 months, a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World, a family trip to Boston to see our East Coast family and allow them the chance to see her and say goodbye before the cancer got bad. That last birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day… even that final day. We were all there the day Jessie died, we were by her side, holding her hand. There was a lot of pain in those 11 months too. The pain of watching my sisters’ life spiral downhill, the pain of cancer, the pain of watching my parents lose their shit and become dependent on alcohol, the pain of Jessica’s death. My parents’ alcoholism only got worse, and the pain of losing my sister never went away.
Hiking those 2,659 miles will give me the opportunity to heal, and I mean really heal… Not only heal the pain of losing my sister, but everything else life has thrown at me. I will have six months of alone time with my thoughts, without the distractions of everyday life. 2,659 miles of processing, self-discovery and self-reflection, forgiveness, and so much more.
I hike to heal. I hike to love. I hike to learn. I hike to grow. I hike for adventure.
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