I’ve been quiet lately, partially because I haven’t had any super pressing topics to write about, and partially because I’ve just been enjoying my new home and the process of getting settled. I can’t begin to express how nice is to be in a place where I don’t have a “let’s live here for a year or two” mentality. I love the idea that I’ll probably be here in 10 or even 20 years if all goes well. That is, it just feels like it will be home, and that’s exciting and wonderful and scary all at the same time (because, well, I need to figure out how to make a living in my new forever home, since my old model was to generally move for things).
In other news, I went on a fantastic hike this week, a majority of which was in the rain. I’m happy to report that I did in fact NOT melt, and I found there to be a quiet and surreal beauty to hiking in the rain. It seems it’s important to stay warm a dry, an obvious concept I’m completely familiar with for backpacking, but one I haven’t had to employ in everyday life in recent years (thanks, Los Angeles and California drought). After years of extolling the virtues of breathable trail runners, I’ve found a new love for waterproof full-height hiking boots in this area during rainy and cold times. During my hike earlier in the week, I giggled with delight as I walked through streams, not worrying about getting cold and wet feet (I did REALLY giggle). It’s all new and exciting, and I’ve been enjoying the new challenges and adaptations. It’s worth it for all this green scenery and all the water that creates our beautiful local waterfalls, such as this one:
While I’m excited to have a winter, and to get back into winter outdoor activities, as usual I’m also thinking far ahead to summer 2016.
Namely, also as usual, I can’t get past the idea that I’d really love to FINALLY do a short mini thru-hike. Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that for the last 2 summers, I’ve had tentative plans to do a thru-hike, but then (partially because of work, and later because of moving), they never work out. Since I started grad school in 2012, life has been stressful and chaotic. I prioritized resume building to be able to compete in a competitive field after graduation, while also dealing with a profound sense of unease about where I’d end up after graduating in 2014 and how that would affect my relationship and general mental well-being. That is: I didn’t have the energy to prioritize a thru-hike, because I was more worried about where I’d be living the next year, and whether or not I’d get a job in a field with few jobs. I know, excuses. But, that’s the truth.
So, fast forward to today, November 2015. While I’m far from feeling settled career-wise, I feel more ready to prioritize and plan for a long-ish trip (because let’s be clear: as I’ve said before, I’m not a place in my life where I want to take off for 5 months, and that’s fine). In fact, I’m SICK of complaining about trips that never work out. While the timing is never perfect, it’s better now than in the past. For countless years, I’ve been returning to the idea of a thru-hike of the JMT. Sure, it’s incredibly popular right now, perhaps changing the experience one might have had 10 years ago, but regardless, it’s something I want to try. As such, I’ve been doing some preliminary research on making this happen. FINALLY. Sure, the idea of a trip like this is scary and daunting, but I suppose that’s what the research is for.
One thing I would add: As mentioned, I spend a little bit of time here and there skimming various social media pages related to specific trails (such as the JMT) or just generally related to backpacking. In particular, I find women-specific groups to be a great resource where one can generally openly ask questions related to anything from gear recommendations to sharing deeper issues related to trail life. One trend I notice is the vast range of advice given to those who encounter difficulties in the prioritizing, planning and actual hiking of a long trip. Often, women will post asking for advice on how to deal with managing other responsibilities in life while also wanting undertake a long trip. Maybe they just got a great new job that they love, or they have young children they feel nervous about leaving. Some respond with a “it’s okay, the trail will be there” mentality, noting that they can plan a trip later. Others push a “make it happen, live your dream” line of advice. There is no wrong answer to this dilemma, as each situation is unique to that individual. I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile now, as I ponder my own perceived inadequacies to make a trip happen over the last several years. Conclusion? It’s completely okay that I didn’t feel ready to undertake a trip such as the JMT. Sure, I probably could have made it happen, and that would have maybe been okay too. I have no regrets, and I suspect that if you’re in a similar boat, you probably had your reasons for putting off an adventure too.