Taking Paths Less Traveled

Joyful Hiker. Mother. Teacher. Adventurer.

In mid June, I went on a solo backpacking trip on the PCT. My path took me nearly 40 miles from Kennedy Meadows to Lone Pine. Everyone has been saying things to me like “That’s badass!” or “I’m so proud of you!” Yet, I feel like an impostor. Let me explain.

I have been preparing for this trip mentally for many years. Ever since my very first experience backpacking in 2012 I have been collecting gear and knowledge that would ultimately lead me to begin section hiking the PCT and eventually complete a thru-hike.

As I made my preparations a number of fears and concerns hammered at my psyche. I have always struggled with weight and self image. Looking in the mirror at myself wearing my backpack, the waist band cinched up on my hips and a muffin-top protruding, I didn’t look like a “real” backpacker. Real backpackers, after all, aren’t pudgy. These thoughts have been part of what held me back for so many years. I kept telling myself, I’ll be able to backpack when I lose 20 pounds.

Of course, losing 20 pounds would be ideal, but I was letting that become a road block to achieve my dreams. It’s not like I hadn’t been training. I’d begun hiking 2-3 times per week and doing Yoga every day. I would have been more prepared physically if I hadn’t gotten plantar facciitis. But, I am sure that even if I hadn’t had to take hiking break, I would have had self-image issues.

Another roadblock that I had to overcome in order to go on my trip is that I am a woman, hiking alone, in the big “scary” wilderness. Friends, family, and even my therapist all voiced concerns. In the past these fears might have stopped me. But this time, I was ready. I have been following beautiful women bloggers that take solo trips and have read about the benefits of solo hiking. I even scraped up an article that gave the statistics of the safety of hiking alone vs. being in a city. Apparently, being in the wilderness is one of the safest places a person could be as long as you are prepared.

It’s been 3 days since I got back from my trip. I was exhausted the first two days and hobbled around the house treating the two bad blisters I had gotten on my feet. My toenail is going to fall off because of my toe ring (sad face) but other than that, I feel amazing.

Hiking for nearly 40 miles with a 30 pound pack on my back was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It was also one of the most amazing things I’ve done. There is a sense of empowerment that I’ve gained and as the realization of my accomplishment sets in, my adventure wolf has been fed and is hungry to go out again.

What I need to say here is… I was probably the most over weight person on that trail for those 4 days. I was in the company of people that had been already hiking for 700+ miles on the PCT. By that point they were literally hiking machines. I struggled not to compare myself to them and, instead, soaked up their experience, asked questions and reveled in the fact that I was even there.

I’m still struggling with comparing myself to others, but I am also looking forward to my next adventure, and to the journey of making myself stronger for what lay ahead.

Me on the PCT Day 1
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