I once drove out to the Devil’s Marbles with a man I loved deeply and thought was just about the closet thing to a soulmate I’d find.
In a way, the end of my journey alongside him sparked the beginning of the journey I’m now on.
He’s a great man, and I have no big bad feelings against him; our lives just had different paths laid before us that we each had to follow.
Splitting off, I felt like I didn’t know how to walk alone anymore, and I googled the very thing I figured might fix that: ’best long distance hikes’.
There were a few that continued to make the top lists, and I eventually went with the Camino a year later. But my second choice would have been the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Camino seemed so doable. It was only a month long, there were hostels the whole way, water was readily available every few kilometres and the spiritual aspect of the pilgrimage was what I knew my heart needed.
The Pacific Crest Trail, on the other hand, was mammoth.
Spanning more than 4,300 kilometres, with days at a time in the wilderness (therefore carrying that much food!), needing to organise water and resupply boxes… It was just so big. There was no way. “Maybe one day”. But more probably, never gunna happen. A very cool pipe dream though.
Now I’m here, doing it; walking amongst rubble and stones and giant boulders, and I was reminded of that, and of him.
It reminded me that although my path hasn’t converged with whoever that soulmate might be, I can walk alone.
My step is sure, my head held high, my gaze fixed on the limitless possibilities over the horizon.
One day my path will join another’s, and I’ll leave a trail of wild, beautiful, magical footsteps right up to that point.
Where this afternoon’s section awakened inspiration within my soul, this morning’s awakened hope.
We knew we were thirteen kilometres from Paradise Valley Cafe – known for the best burgers along the entire trail.
We wouldn’t be walking too far afterwards, and needed to wait until it was open anyway, so we enjoyed our sleep in (6:30AM) and set off, burgers in mind.
My outlook today was so different to Day Nine.
I stopped to look at flowers.
I turned back around to take in the ground we had already covered and appreciate how far we’d come.
I patted a horse as it sauntered past.
All the while, dreaming about fries, a chocolate thickshake, and that burger. Eventually, we turned a corner and spotted the highway.
Such a welcome sight!
And because the cafe was a mile down the road off trail, it didn’t count as cheating if we hitched there. I stuck out my thumb and the FIRST car that came up the road pulled over, loaded our packs in the tray, and we jumped in. As we began to drive off, the driver looked at the five other hikers beginning their stretch down the highway: we couldn’t fit them in the ute with us, but he figured the least we could do would be chuck their packs in the back and give them an easier walk. Great couple!
They took a happy snap with us, and then drove off… Only to double back, pick up the others (including two in the tray!) and drop them off with us. Seriously, the generosity and open hearted nature of people is a beauty to behold.
The hype is no exaggeration. The burgers were next level. So was my chocolate shake. And fries. And coffee. And tiramisu, just because.
Eventually, loaded down with bellies ready to burst, it was time to continue.
The chef offered us a ride in his van.
It too was not a white one van, so we piled in. Sketchiest non-white van I’ve ever seen, but it got us back to the trailhead no worries.
And that basically picks up where I started: this afternoon’s boulders, and the Devil’s Marbles.
I have come so far.
Both in my heart, and along this trail already.
And I keep remembering: I am never alone.
I’ve got Jesus. I’ve got friends and family back home who give me more encouragement and love than I can wrap my head around. I even receive messages from old friends who revive me exactly when I need it (shout out to Larissa and Pearce in particular!).
Wherever I am, there are people I can walk alongside, and partner with. Maybe I don’t just need them – maybe I hold something they need too. How powerful it is when I am mindful of these things, and hold them close to the surface.
What a privilege to play a part in someone else’s life, and not just wait passively for someone to play a part in mine.
Old mate Mr Right will catch up when he’s ready. Or when I am.
I am feeling the gratitude as I realise I still have 4,000 kilometres of this journey left to process, practice, and try to perfect.