Winter in SoCal…

It’s here.  The very end of my southbound thru-hike, less than 30 miles to go.

The end has not been without its intense difficulties.  I thought I had experienced all the things a hiker is prone to experience: weather, blisters, food shortages, excess weight, rain/snow, cold temps.  Well, check, check, check, check and check.

Could more really be in store for me?!

I’ll answer that; yup. And it was in the form of nearly all of the above!  It’s winter in SoCal, during a dry year, and in my time since Big Bear, my share of challenges have been numerous. Some of them logistical. Some of them practical. The majority of them mental.

For the most part, the days have been HOT. Cloudless and dry. Pro: no precipitation; Con: the struggle for water. Long water carries will probably be the name of my new band.

The nights, FRIGID.  Especially at elevation, there have been times when I legit thought I was going to lose my extremities…. Second contender for the name of said band.

Out of Big Bear, for example, one night (at 7800ft elevation & on Thanksgiving, mind you), I honestly started to wonder what my life would look like without my fingers and toes.  I really believed I was going to lose them. I cried a lot that morning. It took hours for me to gain sensation back and I had to find a rock, wait for the sun, and harness my reptile, ectothermic ability to generate warmth back to my body.  Sobbing helped; likely not.

I think about it: why would anyone do a thru-hike!?

Well, I’ll answer myself again… they go in spring/summer (not the winter like you, fool, Janine)!  They want to pit themselves against nature. They want to see the sights most never will. But most likely, they want to find out what they’re made of.

In the 2k+ miles that I have walked over these past 5 months, I have learned just that.

I am capable of SO, SO, SO, SO, SO, SO much more than I ever thought possible.

If I had met the person I am now, 5 months ago, I wouldn’t recognize her.  If I was told 5 months ago that I would hike alone, in some of the most-remote parts of the state of CA, I wouldn’t believe it. If I had been told that I would meet people (strangers, essentially), that would do more for me than my own friends and family, I would not have thought it possible!

But it is.  It was possible, and it all happened to me, for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I am worthy? Do I deserve it?

I’ll answer again, yes. We all do!  I believe that at times, we don’t see or welcome in the blessings when they show up.  Or, worse yet, we don’t put ourselves in situations to have said blessings.

I am so glad I’ve put myself into this situation. This thru-hike has changed me, uprooted me, my identity… it’s changed my level of self-confidence.

And it’s not done yet!  I have these last couple of days to soak it all in, and thankfully, the rain/winter storm is clearing out just in time for me to reach Mexico!


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