I’ve spent the morning thinking about how hard life would be if you weren’t friends with yourself.
It’s not an unknown concept to me – as a few of you might know, my teenage years weren’t too shiny on the inside. I tried to hide it and put on a good facade, but my self-esteem was pretty low and self love almost non-existent.
The past ten years have seen me grow and mature and learn to love who I am. No doubt there are still areas I can continue to work on, accept or love more deeply, but for the most part, I like myself.
This morning, I was telling myself that a lot.
I had got my extra night of sleep (in a bed 🙌🏽), and my head was back in the game, ready to go.
Gathering my pack and Wilson the Wizard staff quietly so as not to wake Maya and Dario, I headed out the door just after 6AM to hitch a ride back to the trailhead. It was a cold eighteen minutes as car after car zoomed past in the opposite direction, but the first one that drove down my side of the road pulled over and let me jump in.
I still have an ingrained tingle of concern every time I hop into a car with a stranger, yet I can’t help but be simultaneously fascinated that situations that would be taboo at home are my everyday life now. Hitching rides, digging holes for poop, sleeping in strangers’ garages, stealing toilet paper in restrooms, walking 30+km day after day after day.
I nailed this mountain, just like I’ve nailed the climbs before it and I will nail the ones yet to come. I did it a little differently though. Music/podcasts have become a crutch of sorts for me. It’s a lot easier to gun it and cover miles when I’ve got a good beat drumming into my head or I’m busy trying to remember how tell someone, “I can speak a little French” in French. And with knowing my inner mental battle yesterday to just continue on, I wanted to set myself a challenge of doing the whole of today with nothing driving me on apart from myself.
Spending all day walking on my own was interesting. I told myself stories, I sang Spice Girls, I prayed for my sisters and a long list of others who came to mind as I went along. And I encouraged myself:
“Just reach the end of this switchback, then you can catch your breath.”
“You’ve got this!”
“I am so strong. I’ve already come 600km. I’m doing so well! I can do this!”
“Perfect, good job, that’s it, now go another 2/10/30 minutes before stopping again.”
“___ miles already?! Go girl!”
The self talk got me thinking about how much being nice to myself helps. I started imagining how I’d feel if I were trying to yell myself up Baden Powell, or tear myself down ‘to make me stronger’ through life in general. I know that is how so many people live, and it must be exhausting. Discouraging. Miserable. Lonely.
Liking myself is key I reckon. I’ve gotta he my own best friend before I can truly be a good friend to anyone else.
So that’s what I was running through my mind as I summited another big peak and took my lunch above the clouds with the loveliest daddy/daughter combo to keep me company.
This tree is an estimated 1,500 years old… I wonder how many tired feet have straggled past.
My afternoon was spent walking more, eating more, and walking again.
If my knees weren’t enough to tell me I was heading downhill again, walking into the clouds got rid of any doubt.
I had been walking for more than ten hours (plus a few quick breaks), and started missing home. With all this alone time and thinking of/praying for people, my nostalgia levels were rising pretty rapidly. Mum and Dad couldn’t answer, but another of my favourite people – Loz Smith – picked up my FaceTime call. Hearing Solomon squealing in the background and her excited voice tipped me over the figurative edge, and I choked up for a while, not able to answer anything except with “Mmm-hmmms” and sniffles.
This chick, her husband Jake, and their son Solly are pure delights from Heaven. Lennox Head is one of the most magical places to live in the world, and after three years there, living in a caravan beside their house was my absolute favourite time. Having people who see you, truly see you and know you, and invite you into their heart and family is the most precious experience and they gave it to me fully.
Reception failed again, but I was thanking Jesus for her as I walked into what felt like Heaven on earth.
The clouds curled up and over the ridge on my left, and spiralled down into the valley in front of me.
I spent a few minutes standing there, in awe, appreciating raw beauty.
Today was a fairly solid stretch without water, and I planned on making it the whole 40km.
I’ve talked about switchbacks before: where you zigzag up/down a steep mountain side. Well, there were a lot of switchbacks in the last few miles of this verrrry long day.
There was also a road crossing, a lot more switchbacks, and then you meet up with the road again to get to the campground…
I admit it.
I took the road.
But you see? It was 8:30PM, the sun was already on the other side of the horizon, and the road seemed like a safer place to walk than potentially sliding off the track with erosion, or a mountain lion getting me..
By the time I reached the campground and set up my tent, I had leftover cabin more than sixteen hours prior. It was a long day.
And I’m glad I didn’t give in to music or podcasts, and I made it on my own. With a little extra love from Lozzie and Sol.
I was proud of myself – and absolutely worn to the bone. Those last few miles I spent stumbling and tripping over my own feet from exhaustion, but I made it.
Lee and Loz Nagorka from Ballina Bootcamp teach us that when we think we’re at the end of ourselves, there is ALWAYS more to give.
Today, I think I gave my all.
Seeing as I’ve already thrown caution to the wind with my nighttime road walk, I’m going to go all and not set an alarm tomorrow morning.
I deserve it.