Return to the Trail


Day 150: southern Washington

Getting back on trail has been an emotional roller coaster. I started repacking and working fairly furiously, to stay one step ahead of the fear and dread. I left the trail feeling confident, blissful, no worry in the world. After Burning Man and three weeks off, I was no longer so sure of myself, my ideas about the weather, or my ability to deal with the perceived difficulties that lay ahead.

I can see all my friends who “signed in” before me.

I have been so variable in my attitude towards time. Sometimes I want to rush to catch even the remote possibility of a last day with my original trail family. Sometimes I simply want to slow way down to milk out the last of these moments, the last of my first thru hike, an experience that will never happen again. Sometimes I dillydally, staring at nature and enjoying the sun. Sometimes I speed up to make far greater miles in the rain, fearful of the days that will bring not just rain, but freezing rain, freezing nights, snow, and snowed-in days. And then I relax again, knowing that this experience is perfect for me alone and that I will finish at the level of challenge that feels like a point of pride but will not break me.  And then I walk on again at a leisurely but fast pace.                               

rivers seem big, the forest seems dark…

Right now, more than ever, I am hiking my own hike. I of course have met the other people near me on trail, but I haven’t felt I need to clamber into their trail families, or to even socialize much at all. I think about my pace, find myself comparing it to my previous pace, my imagined pace, other peoples’ pace, and then… I find stillness. I walk in comfort, easily reaching each day’s goal. 

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