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“Wander a whole summer if you can…time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” John Muir

Month

March 2014

HYOH

On the PCT, there is a saying: “HYOH,” which stands for, “Hike Your Own Hike.” It runs through my head constantly, even in every day life.

It applies to everything.

I keep it in mind when I read others’ blogs as well, which has been a recent obsession. Last years trials and tribulations, victories and trail magic are all lined up all over the internet. My favorite so far has been this one: Carrot Quinn It’s by a gal named Carrot (who is also from Portland) who is turning her blog into a book, and it’s going to be really, really good! She’s an excellent writer, and her book is going to be better than “Wild.” Really.

Also, she’s hiking again this year, only a couple of days ahead of me. I hope so much that I get to meet her and hike with her a little or a lot.

After finishing her trail story, I’m more motivated than ever to get out there and hike my hike. I leave in 33 days! 33 DAYS!! I am so freaking thrilled, terrified and READY. I’m so, so ready!

Today, I am shoving things I don’t need into boxes so that my friends can come over on Saturday and take away little pieces of my life. I’m keeping so little in storage, so that when I come back, I don’t have to feel all the weight of possessions. I’m absolving myself of attachment, and it feels wonderful. I recommend it, even if you aren’t going on a big trip.

Out with the old, in with the big breath of life that inevitably follows.

Tomorrow, I buy the last of the gear that I need. I’ll put it all in the backpack that will house it for the next half a year, and that will be my most valuable attachment for a long while.

How light it must feel to carry everything you own with you all of the time.

How heavy it will seem after a few short miles in the desert.

How free I will be, with nothing to do but walk. I can’t wait so bad it feels like an entirely different lifetime away. Not the mere 33 days that will surely fly by like a swift wind. It feels so so far away, so out of reach, yet all I do is plan for it, think about it, and read blog after blog after blog after blog…

And here is mine, itching to get started. Feet ready to go. Mind already there.

April 28th can’t come fast enough.

“Waiting is the hardest part.” -Tom Petty

(I’ve fixed the error that made it so you couldn’t comment on my blog. Feel free to say encouraging things and stuff. XOXO)

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Over The Moon

It’s all happening so fast.

Not 2 weeks ago, I had only the vaguest notion of completing a section of the PCT at some point this summer; sometime after the wedding I didn’t want to miss, before the other wedding I didn’t want to miss, and definitely not at any point which might interrupt school, or during Pickathon, or during my family’s vacation in NH. No, it would have to be some other time.

I had already been planning to do the entire trail in 2015 after I was done with school, so it hadn’t even crossed my mind to do the whole thing this year.

All of that changed as a big announcement was made that shook my world up quite a bit (it’s still shaking).

The place I’ve worked for nearly 4 years is closing it’s doors for good. The place I’ve loved, with the people I’ve loved, and the job I’ve loved. It is all going away.

At first I reacted emotionally; sad, mad, and all those normal stages of grief (it felt like I was being evicted from a relationship I wasn’t ready to let go of). But then I started thinking of how fun my summer would be if I didn’t have to work and went hiking a bunch. It was bittersweet really, because I’m going to miss that place, and more so the people. I cried when I found out, and now, as my friend Carly puts it, “It sounds like the Bowl closing is the best thing that ever happened on planet Jess.”

She’s right.

Because then I agreed to go out on a date with one of my customers. Completely forbidden behavior in my own book of rules (yes, that rule was not adhered to in the past, but there is a reason the rule existed).

Now, with the place closing, why worry? I won’t have to see them after May 18 anyway…and this guy, well, he’s hiked the PCT, and that was just about the most intriguing attribute anyone could have at this point (and I’d been pretty intrigued by him for a while anyway). So, I threw the rule out the window and met up with him at a bar, where we both ordered Manhattans, and a life changing conversation ensued.

I won’t bore you with the details, but he gradually chiseled away at my excuses until I was sitting there dumbfounded that I was even considering dropping everything to do this hike. “What a crazy idea,” I kept thinking. And yet, I couldn’t think of anything more compelling.

The idea thrilled and terrified me. My head was spinning. We got drunk, sang karaoke, bowled, danced and had a great time as this sugar plum fairy of an idea did pirouettes in my mind. I couldn’t let it go.

The next morning I woke up, and I just knew. I knew I was going to do it, and it was the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had. I was swept with a wave of elation, excitement, fear, passion and even relief. It suddenly felt like my destiny.

I made a few phone calls, sent a few emails, and looked at a few logistics before realizing I was seeing nothing but green lights. “Go,” is all anyone said when I brought it up.

The support has been amazing already. I have some pretty doggone fabulous people in my life, and I love you all. I can’t wait for you to be a part of my journey. Even if you’re just sitting there in your underwear reading my blog, your support means everything. Knowing there are people out there rooting for me is all I need to keep taking those steps down the old dusty (that, and the promise of a cheeseburger in the next trail town).

It feels crazy and right at the same time, and I’m quite simply over the moon.

“Things have a way of working themselves out.” -Will

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