A fellow PCT hiker of mine (Delaware Dave) just got around to posting his PCT pictures on Facebook these past couple of days. As I started to look through them, I kept thinking, “I know where that is!”, “I’ve been there!”, “I have a photo just like that!”. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane. And then I was completely surprised to find this picture of me, which made me laugh!
I had forgotten that he had taken this picture and at first, I didn’t know where it was taken. It looks like I am sitting down in the middle of nowhere! But after seeing the next picture of the suspension bridge, I remembered this was the last time that I saw him just before mile 800, as he was not feeling well from altitude sickness, and I wanted to move on. (From his next few photos, I learned that I had just missed seeing the cutest little bear who was scoping out his campsite!!).
I was sick with giardia at this point, and on my way to becoming infected with C. Diff. and re-tearing my Achilles in this section. But I look so happy… This is where I belong- out in the woods… out in the open where I have instant friends. Lately, I have been comforting myself with the thought that I will be in this situation again. I will have companions, my body will move again, and my spirit will feel happy. I want to return to my happy place and feel alive and happy and fulfilled.
One of my AT friends, Skip, recently asked if he could have one of my calendars. I received a card from him yesterday in return that brought tears to my eyes. The photo is a scene of a group of silhouetted thru-hikers standing outside of a shelter under a magnificent sunset. I hope he won’t mind if I quote his beautiful words…
“My life hiking is one of my happiest lives. Sometimes the nostalgia can be more than I can bear, and it’s everything I can do just to remember to breathe. My heart is in nature, and the mountains, and the sunsets. I dream of the day I can live with my heart again. That’s my euphoria and completeness.”
(Nostalgia… Breathing… Living with his heart…!!! The very things that were going through my head in the past couple of days! I love my thru-hiking people- especially the ones that remain connected to me in some way!)
I feel such the same way as Skip does, and really appreciate the affirmation of my own feelings. Despite many people in my life not being able to understand these feelings, and the consequent self-questioning that follows, I have recently arrived at an acceptance of them. It’s okay to want to return to a lifestyle that makes you most happy. It’s okay to not be okay with the life that we are taught that we are supposed to live. I have learned that I am a homebody with a gypsy soul. If I am not resting and storing up my energy, I need to be physically moving, be surrounded by like-minded people, have a purpose to my life and a reason to get up, experience more, and see more of the world. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I can’t wait until I can thru-hike again!