The Pacific Crest Trail will restore your faith in humanity. I can't tell you how often this idea has been reiterated among the hiker community; and what a warm and fuzzy sentiment it is. Not that I've particularly lost faith in humanity, but it's more complicated than that. I have in fact received a significant amount of kindness on the trail from townspeople and hikers alike. The selflessness and regard for one another is jarring and even contagious, but rather than strengthening my faith in humanity as a whole, it strengthens my faith in communities that depend heavily on one another.
There are many factors that contribute to this experience on the trail. People out here in the wilderness move at a slower pace with less on their plates. People here actually know their neighbors and by nature maybe that makes their neighbors easier to love. Favors are given with nothing expected in return. Not just snacks and drinks and trail magic, but people actually let us sleep in their homes. We called a family at 8:30 pm to ask if we could stay the night, they picked us up at 9:30 pm. It's a beautiful example of what it means to be hospitable. I want to learn to live the way these folks live. I want all of us to live like these folks live.
With an abundance of headspace on the trail, not only am I struck by the nature of the people I've met, I'm left to consider my own nature. As you may imagine, the lack of distraction is studdering. Eat, drink, walk, think.
I feel more human. Something happens to you when you are outside in the sun everyday, putting your mind and body to use. Something also happens when you starve yourself from those basic needs. As my body tightens, my mind loosens. The stress and demons of the day are significantly less. I'm presented with a universe of thoughts to be explored. My thoughts drift through the past, the present and the future. Who I have been, who I have become, who I am becoming. It's been beautiful to spend significant time in that space, even though my thoughts aren't consistently positive and hopeful. A major process that I'm experiencing is the acceptance of myself, flaws an all, and then I decide to keep moving forward. I'm optimistic about where this practice will take me. As I've mentioned in the past, there's not much escape, if you're trying to run from yourself, the PCT can be like locking yourself in a room alone.
I wish we could all spend more time in this space. Not just more time in the wilderness, but to spend time where we are utterly alone with our thoughts. It's interesting because I would have previously said that I spend a good amount of time alone with my thoughts back when I was in the city. This is a million times different than being alone on an hour commute. Or having quiet times in the morning. Or even having a night to yourself. Sometimes people camp for a weekend alone or something, as rare as that is, it doesn't carry the same weight. I think partly because there's an absolute start and finish to a weekend. The headspace is always jammed between events in our busy life. Between work and hanging with friends. Between friends and sleep. This particular time whittles away, our society no longer values it. While living in the most convenient era to date, we still don't seem to have enough time in the day. The pct feels infinite. I'm only 4 weeks in, which freaks me out. What will happen in the next 3 months? It feels good to explore the deeper places of my heart, and the brighter dreams of my soul and to experience the freedom that comes from that.
The past two and a half years have been challenging for me, not because my life situation has been difficult, most things were exceedingly good. Great jobs, great friends, great living situations, and in one of the greatest cities ever, San Francisco. I used to be committed to the idea that the best days of my life would never be the past, but rather the present and the future. Reality fights against optimism of that degree, some even call it delusion. Yeah city life can be hard in general. Often times you are extremely lonely yet extremely busy and then you start to compromise what you deeply need. I've noticed some of the most simple needs missing from my own life such as: an ample amount of sunlight, daily physical exertion, enough sleep, experiencing days at a time without stress. Daily life felt hard in a way that felt inescapable. Spiritual. Emotional. I experienced shame for abandoning some of my own personal values. I had previously fought so hard to become a person that I wanted to be and I woke up one day and realized that I was no longer fighting. My trajectory was changing. I had to do something to redirect myself.
This journey is a redirection. It will be remembered as a turning point in my life. No doubt. It's a fast from everything you've ever known. It's a chance to starve yourself from the goods and the bads of your previous routine and it's glorious.
I've put this blog post on hold for a while. I struggled with how to best articulate my own feelings while keeping this informative about the experience of the pct. I decided to just throw it out there. It feel unfinished, I'll write another post soon covering the details of what's actually happened in the past few weeks. Thank you so much for reading. I've received so much encouragement and support and it is really humbling. I'm excited to keep sharing.
As for general updates:
We have made it to Tehachapi, roughly 550 miles into the Pacific Crest Trail. Since my last post we went to my friend Ky's bachelor party, then his wedding. We also visited the Bay Area for a day to see Aaron's family and celebrate his brother's graduation. It was hard to get back on trail after each event because the food is SO good and seeing friends is SO good and not hiking 25 miles a day is SO good (sometimes). We only have 150 miles left in the desert. The Sierra is next, which is filled with more jaw-dropping views.
We also went live on Facebook and streamed a video in the desert, it was SO fun. We will definitely do it again. Watch it here.