I’ve heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Ehem, I think I may fit that definition.
This may sound crazy, and it possibly is, but I’m getting back on the trail at Steamboat Springs. Yes, I’ve missed the last 200 miles and yes, I’ll eventually have to hike those miles to call this a complete thru-hike, but that part doesn’t matter. Bottom line is that I miss Matt too much to spend another 2 months away from him, and most importantly, I don’t want to miss out on an extremely important experience in his life.
When I saw Matt after Grand Lake, we pulled up his latest photos on the computer and I immediately regreted my decision to get off the trail. Seeing photos of scenery that I hadn’t seen, photos of him that a stranger had taken, photos of pieces of him that I’ll never understand because I didn’t experience them first-hand…all of it made me realize how much of his life I’d be missing if I left for Seattle.
In the past and certainly just recently, I have struggled with the mental game of thru-hiking. I simply cannot find a way to have a good attitude for the entire hike. Something external throws me off, like a tough climb, a rainstorm, or just the feeling of being disgustingly dirty, and I enter a downward spiral of negativity. I need to get my head on straight before I continue trying this thru-hike, and that’s what this last week was. It was an opportunity for me to see the other side, the side where the grass isn’t greener, the side where I’m just as unhappy without my husband. It’s the side where I can’t take the guilt of watching him walk away, alone on the trail, facing challenges without his best friend beside him, something I agreed to do back in May when I toed the line on the Mexico/New Mexico border.
So yes, call me crazy. Maybe you’re happy for me, sad for me, pissed that I’m so damn indecisive. Unfortunately, that’s what I am in every aspect of life, not just thru-hiking. Super Walmarts paralyze me with all their choices. I feared getting back on simply for what other people would think of me, but at the end of the day, I can’t let that be a deciding factor. I’m doing what’s best for me, and I know Matt is supportive of any decision I make, so that’s where I stand.
As an exercise in readying myself for the rest of the trip, I made a list of all the external and internal problems that can arise. It’s raining, it’s cold, there’s no water, I’m negative, I’m bored…the whole gamut. Then I came up with the ways I plan on dealing with those problems. This certainly isn’t a full proof plan, but at least I’ve thought about my reactions to stressors before the stressors can catch me off guard.
As we suspected before we started, this trail is anything but standard. We will not get through it unscathed, apparently I’m not getting through it without first quitting, and we still have miles that we’ve left behind because of fires. I can’t stress enough how abnormal this trail is because of all its challenges rolled into one. I also can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the support of friends and family. You’ve been there all the way with phone calls, emails, mail…and I feel like I violated some of that by quitting the trail. While I can’t make any promises, I’m going to give every ounce of effort to finish the rest of the trail, even if the only satisfying aspect of it is that I have my best friend beside me for every step of the way, because for me, that is enough of a reason to thru-hike. I had to first admit that I didn’t like thru-hiking all that much, and then admit that I’m probably crazy, but the end result is that I believe any adventure is possible if I’m sharing it with the one person I love the most.