Mile 266. 10% of the way to Canada. What a journey! I have learned so much. So much about myself and so much about other people.
I have learned complete strangers provide generosity for no reason other than to help a fellow human.
I have learned my friends provide unconditional support and love in everything I do.
I have learned my family is always there when I need them.
I have learned that I can no longer be complacent when it comes to my career or income.
I have learned I really enjoy planning. The planning for the PCT gave me something to focus my attention on during a very dark time in my professional career.
I have learned/reinforced my love for the outdoors and I must continue to spend a good amount of time outside.
I learned/reinforced that I love a grueling workout. And the satisfaction that comes from putting it all on the line and having nothing left.
I have learned I’m quite good at striking up a conversation with a complete stranger.
I have learned I can deal with being in physical pain day after day after day.
I have learned you need very little in the way of material possessions to be happy. The clothes on your back, food and water are the only things necessary when your engulfed in the support and love of your friends and family.
I have also learned I’m not a thru hiker. I do not have what it takes to leave behind my family and friends to undertake an endeavor spanning 5 months. Even with their tremendous outpouring of support, I’m afraid I can’t be without them. Being away from home for extended periods is not for me. If I can’t share my day to day life with those I love, then there is little point to the day to day.
In my younger days, I was very much a loner and stick to myself kind of person. Had I undertaken this hike at 20, this sacrifice would have been no big deal. I am a very different person today, and see the tremendous value of sharing experiences with others.
Brian posted a comment on Facebook, after seeing me in Warner Springs, saying he saw the light in my eyes again. And it had been awhile since he had seen it. The light in my eyes returned because I was able to strip away all the bullshit clouding my perception. While I didn’t make it to Canada, the hike cleansed my spirit and allowed me to see what was truly important and what a wonderful life I have.
I’m sure there are some who will believe I’m a failure because I didn’t hike all the way to Canada. I will leave that for you to believe. Frankly, your opinion of me is none of my business. I know in my heart it’s not necessary for me to hike to Canada. The lessons I needed to learn were shown to me before I set foot on the trail. The last three weeks merely reinforced them.
I broke a few patterns I needed to break. Before I left I was drinking somewhat heavily and frequently. Considering the weight of fluids in general, imbibing spirits while on the trail is a rare treat. This was a welcome break and showed me I didn’t need it to have a good time.
I appreciate all the love, support, and comments. Many of you have commented that you really enjoy my writing. Perhaps it is something I will continue to pursue. I never believed I was any good at writing.
Thank you for following along. I’m know there is some disappointment, but I assure you this is the beginning of a new chapter. The PCT is a magical place, and I hope to visit her with regularity in the future.
Most importantly, I found my smile.