Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I embarked on a hike that was to have lasted six months and tallied 2,650 some miles. The hours since that day have been filled with wonder, hardship, elation and sadness. I managed to hike <700> miles before I threw in the towel yet since the day I quit, I have been in a state of confusion. I tried, I really did, to be OK with choosing to stop hiking the trail but somehow or other I just could never make it stick. Yes, I had nasty blisters; yes, I had some kind of weird stomach bug; yes, 700 miles is a long way - and a great accomplishment if that was the aim. But my goal was something else and no matter which way I look at it, I just didn’t make it happen.700>
Last winter was tough. Aside from my usual lack-of-sun blues, lurking over my shoulder was this failure. This not-accomplishing of a dream I have had for more than ten years. Why wasn’t I able to stay on the trail? Am I not tough enough to struggle through the hard times to make something extraordinary happen? Where did my will power go? I’ve managed to live through 60 years of life…what did I do wrong?
Too many questions, not enough answers. Over this winter I would talk with friends and they would, understandably and kindly, respond with “You walked 700 miles, I couldn’t do that!” True, or maybe not true, but this is what they believe about themselves, and me. If I could believe this as well there would be no problem. But, as I’ve stated before, it just wouldn’t stick. I’ve continued to carry around this nagging sadness that would not go away, no matter what I did. All around it’s been a tough winter.
Spring is here. The class of 2013 is hitting the trail and they are doing much the same as I did last year. Feelings of hope, anxiety, excitement and fear rule the day for most wanna-be thru hikers and I imagine there are lots of these kinds of feelings floating around in the southern part of my state. While I sit here in my hometown, many miles away and surrounded by green grass, citrus trees and an ocean breeze, kindred spirits are moving north. I pull weeds and they make miles. My thoughts are ever with them.
So I find myself asking, what are the qualities they have that I don’t have? What could I have done differently? What is it? Why? How come?
As I said, it’s been a very hard winter…