We’re less than a week out from Amicalola and it finally hit me at about 6:10am.

I got home after working my last night at my job before I fly out to Atlanta. I hung out a bit, caught up on whatever SNL was available on YouTube and then I tucked myself into bed (which is currently my sleeping pad under my sleeping bag on a daybed).

I opened up one last video to watch before falling asleep. See, my favorite YouTuber had uploaded his final episode earlier today. It sounds silly, but I’ve watched this person and enjoyed his videos through a large part of my life — including some pretty dark times, and when I felt most lonely or alone. I’d watched him grow as a creator as I grew in my own ways, and this was one of many chapters coming to a close before I start this hike. Not the biggest, but maybe that’s why it was the trigger.

It was about ten minutes into watching the video that the full reality of what I’m about to do hit me. All at once, and like a freight train.

I’m scared of the dark. I’m nervous. I won’t get to see my friends or family for months, and that’s if I manage to be successful. I’m a baby backpacker, I don’t have much experience. What if I get scared of the dark alone at camp? What if it’s just all too scary and I freak out?

But that’s why you’re doing this, I hear a voice of calm amongst the chaos as I begin to reassure myself. To face the fear. To be afraid and overcome it, again and again and again. As many times as it takes to get to the summit of Katahdin.

I think about how, when I decided to do this hike, I had to fight to hear that voice of reason in all the calamity that is my anxious mind. Now it’s almost second nature: a trained response to an impulsive thought spiral. I think about how, if I can do that in just two months, I can overcome the things I fear will stop me.

Just like I’ve told everyone who’s asked: I can only minimize my chances of worst-case scenarios by preparing as much as I can in every way possible.

But it finally hit me. It’s finally real! It’s not just a plan that’s months or weeks away, it’s days. Hours, even.

It hit me with fear and nerves and, a want for safety and ease. But I didn’t spend this whole year thus far preparing to take this incredible journey, one that feels so right in my soul, just to give up because I’m afraid of the dark.

I can befriend the night. I can treat it, and everything else I encounter, with the respect it deserves. So long as I do that I’ll be fine. (Knock on wood.)

Nerves. Nerves. Nerves. I guess that’s a sign of something good.

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