We’re currently in Austin, TX, visiting some close friends (who are about to have their first child!) on our way to Clare’s parents’ place in Louisiana. Our car is loaded with our packs and 23 resupply boxes, which we’ll leave with her parents to be shipped to us as the summer progresses. We fly from Louisiana to San Diego on Monday, April 6th, and then start at the trailhead on Wednesday, April 8th — less than a week away now!
The past two or three months have been a blur, in many ways, as I kept myself laser-focused on the enormous amount of work to be done to allow us to take this trip. Now, however, I feel such a wide range of emotions as the beginning of this hike actually approaches.
Most of all, I feel an intense sadness at leaving behind everyone in California — friends, co-workers, everybody else I know. I’m going to miss all of them, from the folks I saw every single day to those I saw more occasionally. (And to the gang of guys I’d gather with every Wednesday night — I already really miss you! And another good friend, similarly.) I know I’m not leaving for good, but it’s hard to leave behind everybody, especially people you’ve grown really attached to, even for something you really, really want to do. I know I’ll think of everybody often in all my time out there. In a way, I’ll take you all with me.
I feel apprehension, too, a certain anxiety…what’s it going to be like out there? How’s it going to be totally different from what I expect? This, I think, is the subterranean feeling: I’m not aware of it so much during the day, but it’s what has, at times, made me wake up early and not be able to get back to sleep, or toss and turn trying to get to sleep at night. It’d probably be foolish not to feel apprehensive about a six-month undertaking like this, after all.
The sense of adventure and excitement follows right with those, though, and grows stronger the nearer we get to leaving. What’s it going to be like? All those places I’ve only read about in books — how will it feel to actually be there? With names like Tehachapi, Echo Lake, Sonora Pass, Stehekin…I can’t wait to see, to get out there and be, to feel alive as we cruise into each new place. (Or feel exhausted as we drag ourselves to someplace new…but, hey, we got there, which is really all that matters!)
Perhaps, above all, I feel a certain kind of pull: off in the distance, there’s something calling me. And it’s the freedom of lying out in the sun on a high mountaintop, feeling the ground beneath you, just the earth and trees and rocks around you, the blue skies and clouds above you…of connecting with the world, being as alive as you possibly can be, and being at such utterly contented peace. Even as every muscle in my body aches and every step makes me want to collapse — I am happy.
I can’t wait to be out there.