Before I began this journey, I did my best to prepare myself for what I envisioned the trail would require. I based my inferences off of previous experiences and made a conscious decision to always maintain a positive outlook. Looking back on the first three months and 1090.5 miles of my adventure, I'd say my preparation has served me well. That's not to say I haven't been dealt a few surprises...
I don't think anything could have prepared me for some of the experiences out here. The trail is in every way an adventure. The thrills are as exhilarating as the lows are disheartening. Imagine waking to a beautiful sunny morning, strapping on a pack that feels comfortably familiar, and hiking to the top of an easily-graded mountain to feel the wind, see the miles of mountains looming ahead, behind, and around, and know that effort is the only means of triumph. Imagine sitting around a campfire with people who seem familial after only a few days, sharing conversations and laughs into the evening, and laying down at night listening to the owls and crickets, knowing tomorrow will bring more smiles, more freedom, and more adventures. Then imagine waking to the sounds of wind and rain, or the numbing smell of cold, hoisting a pack that seems even heavier than the day before, and walking through a constant pain for miles up thousands of feet or down a rocky, root-laden descent that only turns back upward when the bottom arrives. Imagine every belonging being damp and cold, a perpetually dark and threatening sky, and crawling into bed as the rain begins again, knowing tomorrow will likely be just as long and painful. The only motivation is the faith that the pain will fade, the terrain will flatten, and the sunshine will return. There must always be that hope.
There is something incredibly peaceful about routine. Knowing nothing beyond a northward movement is simple and cyclical, but strangely liberating. There is nothing but to walk, there is nothing but to think, there is nothing but to feel, and there is nothing but to see.
I want to see it all.
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