While I realize it is in no way about thru-hiking, I’ve had lines from En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” in my head for the past 24 hours: Free your mind / And the rest will follow. (Seriously. Nothing to do with thru-hiking.)
Deciding to walk the Pacific Crest Trail has been a long process. The interest has been there for years, the desire has increased with every long hike I’ve taken, and I’ve slowly gained a cautious confidence in my preparedness for the attempt.
The biggest hurdles were mental. Getting over my fears about turning down work for six months. Letting go of anxiety about foot pain or stress injuries ending my hike. More fears about turning down work.
But once I decided that what mattered more was actually attempting this thing—this big, ridiculous, arbitrary endeavor—those fears faded. What’s left in their place is an incredible excitement, a thrill of possibility, a sense of lightness and freedom.
Which isn’t to say that I’m trotting off for Canada fueled solely by rainbows and unicorns. I’ve put in work: I bought an under-desk treadmill in December and since then have written emails, edited video, and done my taxes while walking at 2mph with a backpack stuffed with 30 pounds of sandbags and free weights. I’ve purchased and walked miles in three pairs of trail runners and three different types of insoles.
But when the trail is wearing me down—hot desert, steep mountains, rain for days, plain old boredom—it’s that core sense of lightness—of excitement, gratitude and joy at the fact that I’m here, alive in the world and doing this at all—that I anticipate will keep me going. The rest will follow.
Right? Either way, we start walking tomorrow. Today we had dinner at trail angels Scout and Frodo’s house with a crowd of other hopefuls, and tonight we’re staying with Girlscout, who will drive us out to the southern terminus early tomorrow morning. (More on trail names later.) It’s nice to start to really feel a part of the incredible thru-hiker community that we’re joining—not the bickering on the listserv or the trolling on Facebook groups but the actual on-the-trail, walking-to-Canada community.