Of the things I learn as I grow older, the concept of time escaping me seems to become more and more relevant. It seems like it was only a few days ago that I was counting down my last months and weeks of work, excitedly putting in my 7 weeks notice as my plan began to take shape and come together.
Now I feel worlds away from all of that as I sit on my friends’ couch in sunny California; a whole week from my daunting work schedule (woohoo!), 700 miles from “home,” a baker’s fortnight (15 days) from the beginning of my hike.
In the morning I will leave my car in the Golden State for the next 6 months and fly out toward the Continental Divide and I’m suddenly concerned about time passing too quickly. Its gone from counting down to trying to hold on. I don’t want it to be over too soon, even though I know it will be. I especially don’t want to think about going back to work anytime soon (though everyone keeps asking me what I’ll do when the hike is over. Short answer: I don’t know).
I just want to hike.
To celebrate the beginning of my freedom, I’ve spent the last week driving down the California coast; stopping to spend time on the beach, walking among the redwoods and catching up with family as well as old and new friends (a lot of whom are basically family at this point – you know who you are <3).
It has already gone by way too fast. Every visit has seemed too short, but with so much ahead I’ve had to keep moving forward. I still do. The whole premise of my summer will be just that:
It was my mantra on the PCT when the miles seemed toughest, but I always gave myself the choice and it was never a difficult choice to make.
So now I’m here trying to slow things down, to enjoy the little moments that keep adding up to remind me what I love so much about this life. So much of it is the people, but it is also so much the amazing places I get to visit along the way. I’m feeling pretty lucky in that regard.
People keep telling me I’m lucky because I “get” to hike all summer instead of work. I’ll then remind you all of the true cost of a thru-hike. I worked an insane amount of hours to be able to take this time off. I literally sacrificed 6 months of my life in order to do just the opposite for 6 months. I’m not lucky in that respect, I simply earned it. It feels good to know I earned it though, because no one can impose their agenda on me at this point – I’m beholden to no one but myself.
I am truly free to hike my own hike.
And so it begins in 15 days – days I will gladly let flow by like molasses, if only they will let me.