I’m thrilled to announce my man Dave White has made progress on the trail map. You can now click on a map marker to pull up the corresponding blog entry. I’m hopeful we’ll get a trail overlay included as well, but either way it’s pretty awesome. Thank you, thank you. You’re the man!!! There’s also a subscribe box at the bottom of every blog post. Make sure to check your junk mail for the confirmation. Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes or for my vegetarian friends tofu and potatoes.
18 months ago I made a decision that will likely affect the rest of my life. It would definitely dictate how I spent the next 2 years. It was impulsive. It was irrational. It was downright crazy. At the time my life was great. I had traveled to Europe during the summer and backpacked in Kauai in October. I was working a new job making decent money. I was living in Utah, a state I love and surrounded by family and friends. The world was my oyster. I say this to emphasize this was not a decision made out of desperation. I wasn’t looking to reinvent myself nor was I searching for the meaning of life. Less than 24 hrs. after learning about the world of thru-hiking, I’d decided I was going to make my first thru-hike in the Spring of ’17.
I told my family the next day and they chuckled it off. I don’t blame them. I would probably have the same response. After all, it was only the night before we’d gone to see A Walk In The Woods. The movie was alright, but it definitely wasn’t world changing…at least for most people. However the idea of taking an epic journey captivated me. I wouldn’t tell anyone else for a few months. By 2016, I slowly began telling close friends. Most of them probably thought I was being ridiculous. I’d bet few thought I’d follow through. By April I told my job I was quitting… April ’17. BTW who gives a 1 year notice? I don’t recommend it if you want any possibility of additional compensation or recognition.
I sit here on the precipice of my adventure. Tomorrow I’ll be dropped off 65 miles from San Diego in the middle of the desert at the southern terminus in Campo, CA. It’s been surreal getting to this point. I can hardly understand what I’m about to attempt. I’m continually asked why I’m doing this and the truth is I don’t know. I love to challenge myself, but there’s a million ways I could challenge myself without foregoing all of my creature comforts, my job, my income, my worldly possessions, etc. I love to hike, but do I love to hike that much? I don’t know. So why do it? Why not? Because I can. Because I feel inspired. Because it’s calling me. Because life is too short not to follow your passions. I try to live life without regrets and I’m not about to let this opportunity slip away.
I thought the 2 weeks between quitting my job and starting the trail would be relaxing. Not the case, at least up to the last few days. I’ve never had to plan the logistics for a week long trip, so planning resupply for a 6 month trek was a daunting task that I’d put off for far too long. Knowing I was out of time, I had to completely immerse myself. A trial by fire. I’m confident I’ve made mistakes. There will be days I’m sitting around waiting for the post office to open when it would have been cheaper and quicker to supply in town. I’m already doubting the usefulness of my bounce box (a 5 gallon bucket filled with supplies like toilet paper and cooking oil that I’ll be shipping to different locations). However, an important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that you’ll never learn a new skill by simply reading someone else’s ideas. Reading can point you in the right direction, but in the end you have to get your hands dirty.
A few days ago I finished my resupply. Locations scouted. Check. Meals planned, bought, and prepared. Check. Food and gear packed and labeled. Check. I’m as prepared as I will be before starting the trail and I feel great. This is a stark contrast to the burden that I’ve been carrying for months. Previously I had this gut wrenching anxiety that was eating me up. Sure, there’s still an uneasiness for the unknown. But the weight that had me wanting to curl up into a ball on my bed is gone.
So what’s a guy to do with days to spare prior to starting a monumental challenge? Go to California for some R & R with my fam. I spent yesterday in Palm Springs and I’ll spend the remaining days living it up in Laguna Beach swimming, eating, surfing, eating, drinking, and just about anything else to keep my mind off the trail ahead. I also managed to find Area 51. It’s good. Life is good.
The quote above fits well with my current thoughts about this trek. There was so much I didn’t know about backpacking when this crazy idea about thru-hiking lodged in my head. Hell, there’s still so much I don’t know. There’s already been so many frustrations, so many mistakes, so many fears. But if I step back and think about it, I’m extremely fortunate. I’m pursuing my passion. I’m living my dream. I’m free. Undoubtedly there will be frustrations, mistakes, and fears in the months ahead. In these moments I need to remind myself to take a step back, take a deep breath, remember that while completing my goal will be glorious, every frustration is a chance to practice patience. Every mistake is a learning opportunity. Every fear allows me to strengthen my resolve. All of it is important. All of it is beautiful.
My final thought prior to taking the plunge: gratitude. Immense gratitude. I’m thankful for my family and friends for everything. Every hug, every smile, for your love and friendship. I’m thankful for my supporters who have taught me so much and picked me up when I needed it. I’m thankful for my doubters for fueling my fire. I told you I’m competitive. I’m thankful for my health and being able to do this. I’m thankful for early conservationists like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt for having the foresight to preserve such amazing places. I’m also thankful for my readers and there willingness to support my cause. Thank you all.
In honor of Earth Day, I hope you all went out and planted a tree then climbed a mountain. Happy trails…