Last weekend, I did something I didn’t really think I could do. I carried my possessions on my back and hiked 5.5 miles through the wilderness, slept in the frigid cold… and then hiked back the next day. And I didn’t die. I didn’t even see a mountain lion. Here’s how it all went down.
Is four years of dreaming enough to prepare me for my first backpacking trip? It’s time to face my fear and answer the wilderness call. Or else I might just lose my every loving mind.
And no matter how far we attempt to remove ourselves from this natural process, there is no escape. The kingdoms we build for ourselves will soon be shuttered – whether by outside force, our own doing, or the natural process of destruction and regeneration. It’s the most basic truth in existence. And yet, I seldom consider it. Because both the enormity and uncertainty are just too much for my little brain.
That is, until I find myself crackling down a trail in the Hercules Glade Wilderness in southern Missouri with my bestie, Ivy and my boo, Mike.
I have a hard time knowing when to stop. Rushing through each day hoping I’ll have the stamina to complete it. It’s a race between my energy and the clock. And the sun goes down, my daughter drifts off, and I melt into a puddle on the floor.
But actually, it’s the couch. And there’s Netflix. And eating. So much eating…
And at some point – if I can muster the tiniest bit of self control – I peel myself up and plod reluctantly to bed.
This is where I found myself exactly one month ago. Only it was before lunch – I was staring at my computer – and I just felt heavy. My body was tired. My mind was exhausted. And, possibly what troubled me the most, my heart was empty. I had absolutely nothing left to give.
When I share with a friend that I enjoy a solo hike in the woods, I’m often met with incredulous looks and questions like “Aren’t you scared?” And when I was married, the questions were more like “And your husband is okay with that?”