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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Giving Thanks: Setting Off to Hike the PCT

It's finally time. After months of dreaming and planning, I am about to set out on my southbound thru-hike of the 2,655 mile Pacific Crest Trail. I've barely had enough to time to digest and process my San Francisco hike and already I'm up here in Seattle preparing to get back on "the trail."

I wouldn't want it any other way; one adventure after another. It has seemed like an endless stream of hikes between the Appalachian Trail thu-hike last year and the hike I am about to embark on. My fitness is up, my skills have developed, my understanding of gear has deepened and I'm feeling really good. I can see a marked difference in my mindset at the beginning of this hike as compared to a year ago. I have a lot more confidence but I'm still anxious about the new elements that the PCT will bring to the table.

I have very little snow experience and even though my navigation skills have been growing, this will be a new test. I've also never experienced the miraculous alpine world of the west. I have a lot to learn and that's why I'm taking on this challenge.

The Pacific Crest will also bring a whole new dimension of beauty. Replacing the "green tunnel" of the Appalachian Trail with the expansive vistas of the Cascades and Sierra. I'm also very excited about the possibility of hearing wolves and witnessing the northern lights up in Washington.

Once I left my home in Loma Mar, CA a lot of the stress and anxiety that comes with meticulous trip preparation evaporated. I just can't wait for that moment when I actually set foot on the trail. At this point I just have to react to what happens; no more preparation. There is definitely a lot of peace of mind that comes with having been through this experience in the past.

In these last few days before I embark on this next adventure, I have been thinking a lot about the innumerable people who have helped me on my journeys this past year. I want to give thanks before I depart.

First of all I am so grateful for the support of my family. My parents and sister have helped me so much emotionally, supporting me unconditionally. They have also provided some key logistical support during my AT hike. I love my family so much and deeply appreciate all that they do to aid me in living the life that I love.

My friends and community at home in Loma Mar and around the world have also been incredible. Hiking with me, meeting me on my hikes with delicious treats and showering me with love through calls, letters and the internet. Thank you all so much for your support. I look forward to exchanging stories when I return. 

I want to thank, in particular, my community at Exploring New Horizons Outdoor School. I can't thank you all enough for helping me grow and being flexible enough to let me go on these journeys. What a gift it is to have a beautiful and inspiring community and job to return to after a long hike. Many thanks to all of my students as well. You have taught me so many lessons and I look forward to returning home with some new lessons to share. 

Thank you to the Trail Angels and strangers who have helped me exactly when I needed it. I hope to "pay it forward" as much as I can in my life. Thank you to all the wonderful trail friends I have made and I look forward to many more on the PCT

And of course, thank you to the land, the animals, the plants, the fungi and the water for sustaining me and inspiring me on my journeys. Your healing abilities are infinite. I hope that I can return the gifts that you have given by helping to protect you. 

May the good fortune continue and weather be kind. May it be a fun adventure and a meaningful journey. Here's to safe passage!

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