As we walked, and talked, 2Beers asked me how I’m feeling.
“Do you mean in general, or about the PCT as a whole, or do you mean right now?”
“However you want to answer”, was the response she gave from a few steps behind me.
It took me a minute to gather my thoughts. They are so varied. There is no simple answer to ‘how I feel’. So I gave her the best answer I could, and it sounded something like this:
I feel at home
Out here, on the trail, living in the woods and walking every day, I am in a community of people who all had the same thought I did: “I’m going to go do it!” And then we did!
Back in Australia, before I came here, I was often met with questions, disbelief, doubt, worry, laughter when I spoke of my intentions to walk from Mexico to Canada. Being here, on that very trail, I do life with people from all corners of the world who have listened to their heart and their dreams and leapt in too.
I’m not so crazy amongst them.
Or maybe we all are crazy together.
Either way, I feel at home.
I feel proud of what I’ve done and what I’m doing
Dude, I’ve walked over halfway now. By the end of tomorrow, I think I’ll be teetering on the edge of 2,000km left – which means I’ve already around two thousand, three hundred kilometres! That’s a flipping feat and a half! That’s something I should be proud of! And I’ve managed to create some great memories and even greater friends whilst doing it. AND I’ve still got a lot to go – which means more memories and friends and lessons yet to be learned.
There seems to be a responsibility that comes with the territory.
A couple days ago, I had a very brief encounter with a daddy/daughter hiking combo, and the girl asked me if I was just out for the day, or a few days, or a week, actually, just how long have I been hiking for??! I responded semi-sheepishly, “One hundred and twenty six days…” Her eyes were wide and voice excited as she rattled off a series of questions one after another, and as we parted and continued hiking opposite directions, she called out: “When I grow up, I want to be just like you!”
What an honour.
What a privilege.
Even when I don’t realise it or remember it, people are taking note of the choices I make and how I’m living this out. I want to live up to the woman that that girl, and my family, and others see me as.
I feel disappointed
We are passing friends that we met in our first weeks on trail. I’m seeing more and more familiar faces, and my hike every day is halted by exclamations and excitement as I run into more and more people I’ve met along the way.
These people aren’t necessarily fitter than I am, or more determined; they’re just hiking differently to how I have been.
And here I am, congratulating those who only have 300 miles left, while explaining that I still have four times that ahead of me. It’s embarrassing, in a way. It’s certainly hard.
But, like the saying goes: Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing my mileage to these peoples’ will only serve to dishearten me, and discredit the way I lived the past four months: with friends, generally laughing.