I know it has been quite some time that I have left you all in suspense. To answer your questions, I didn’t quit. You know, I’ve quit most things in my life, due to various reasons, ranging from injustice, to unhappiness. This was not one of them. I didn’t quit. I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017… the year of Fire and Ice.
It has been 87 days since I sat on the Northern Terminus Monument of the Pacific Crest Trail. I finished the trail in 139 days (156 days if you include the 7 days I took off to visit family in Vegas, or the 10 days I took off when I almost quit). On day 87 on the trail, I had hiked 1370.8 miles, more than I’ll ever accomplish in a another consecutive 87 days in my life time.
In the 87 days I have been off trail, I had surgery, visited 24 states during two cross country road trips, checked off all 50 US states from my bucket list, accepted a new travel nursing contract, moved to San Diego, started a new job, met new friends, went on a date, continued to have the appetite I had on trail and resulting in weighing 10 pounds more than my pre-trail weight, went on a diet and lost 13.6 pounds (so far), accepted another travel nursing contract for February in Palo Alto, thought about getting a puppy, signed up to be a dog sitter on Rover, applied for baby sitting jobs to fill my weekend time, spent a lot of money I didn’t have… Should I go on? To many of you, it may seem like I’ve accompanied a lot in 87 days, but I don’t feel as if I have accomplished anything; none of these things gave me the fulfillment I had on trail. I was somebody on the trail. I was doing something great. I inspired many of you, and gave others, the motivation to follow their dreams. I felt like somebody for the first time in a long time.
I started the Pacific Crest Trail to find myself, to figure out what it is that would make me happy in this short life of ours (simply put), and honestly, I thought I had found myself.
Some of you know that I have PTSD from the military and various traumas in my life. The years have gotten better with time and the symptoms more manageable. When I was on the trail, my symptoms almost diminished. I thought I was cured. I slept without sleeping pills, for the first time since I was 17 years old. The bears that roamed at night, the mountain lions that screamed in the darkness, the glowing eyes of an animal I will never know, were far less frightening than the nightmares that haunt me, and the people who have hurt me. I wasn’t triggered out there, I was at peace… Finally. When I got home from the trail, the symptoms abruptly returned and it was very hard to accept; I wasn’t better after all. I started the Pacific Crest Trail to find myself; as it turns out, I feel more lost than before.
Blogging about my trail experience has been hard lately. Reading what I wrote on the trail; reliving the memories of such an amazing time in my life; seeing the true happiness and serenity in the smile on my face, a feeling that I hadn’t experienced in so long and have yet to experience since; knowing that I am back to a reality that is far more complex, filled with dozens of daily decisions; has been quite a tough pill to swallow. I convinced myself I was too busy to work on my trail blog posts, but that is not the case.
The truth is, when I am not working, I’ve limited the distractions of this life, by staying in my apartment, with more than plenty of time to blog. I’ve set aside time, on several occasions to post, but some how managed to find something else to do instead. Why? Because I miss it. When I read my journal entries, edit trail photos, force myself to relive the life and happiness I had on trail, I am not concentrating on finding happiness in this world… the world we all must inevitably live in. I have to keep looking for this happiness, I have to have hope that I can find that feeling, that peace and serenity, off the trail as well. I have inevitably become an adventure addict. The high I get from the adventures, from the challenging hikes that I conquer, from the views that take my breath away, from the dangers that I might face, from the obstacles that I overcome, from doing what so few have done or would ever attempt to do, all distract me from the pain I feel without these adventures; the pain that I have been forced to feel since the trail. The real solution is finding someone to help me work through my past, and that, that will be my next big adventure.
I don’t share this with you for pity. I don’t want your sympathy. I have been very blessed in this life and God loves me. I share this with you, so you know that I have not forgotten, I am not too busy. Every one who has a desire to, attempts, or completes a long distance trail is a bit crazy… I know you all were thinking the same thing. Heck, we all are a little crazy. To hike the Pacific Crest Trail, I feel like most people are running away from something, searching for something, or holding onto hope that the trail can cure whatever is going on in their life. I can assure you, the trail will not necessarily provide what you are looking for, it might only be a temporary fix. I read an article that stated something similar and I thought I would be different than he suggested. I thought I really would find myself. I was wrong.
Again, I am sorry that I haven’t updated you, haven’t finished my trail blog entries, haven’t given advice to those of you who plan on doing the PCT in the future, and haven’t posted a gear review… I will. I will finish in time, but it will take time. Thank you for your patience. I will continue to give updates, no matter how far and in between my posts will be. Thank you all for your comments, messages, and continued support. You are not forgotten. Until next time…