John Muir Trail – Mile 50 (or so)
Eleven days in, twenty more to go.
Eleven days…really? That’s it!?
I feel like it has been a lifetime already. When every day is an emotional roller coaster of the highest highs and lowest lows and each experience is lived fully, time moves so much slower. Not to mention when the days are measured by sunlight instead of by minutes or hours, and there is no rush to be anywhere “on time”, it’s almost as if time is actually infinite.
But then again, isn’t it?
I said recently the length of this trail is an illusion. And that I’ve come to realize it’s not the quantity of miles walked or time spent here, but the quality. Let me dive in to what I mean by that. What I mean is that we are ALL constantly on a trail of sorts. We are all on our own unique journeys and the only actual beginning dates are the moments you decide to show up, and the only ending date is the moment you take your last breath.
Before I even began hiking, I knew that this journey had already begun. That my work was directly in front of me. And what is my work? My work, my one true job in this life, is simply to spread love wherever I go and to fully experience each moment, perceive it in the unique way I am able, whether it is absolute bliss or completely miserable. And let me tell you, it’s not always easy work.
The first week on the trail was a bit rough. My pack was far too heavy. I wasn’t in very great shape. I wasn’t acclimated to 10,000 ft. elevation. Terrible blisters formed on my heels on day one. And I was faced with snow. Lots and lots of snow. But it was also absolutely incredible. I was walking through the back country of Yosemite National Park with no agenda. I was drinking the freshest water and breathing the purest mountain air. I had endless time to read and write and practice yoga and simply live. And I was meeting some great people, though spending most of my time alone with Nature.
It took some time to get settled into my trail routine, to figure out how best to organize my backpack, how to efficiently pack up camp in the mornings and get on the trail. Honestly, it would take me anywhere from two to three hours to pack up in the beginning; I am proud to say now I can get it all done in about 30 minutes!
My days are simple.
Wake up. Drink water. Dig a hole to poop in.
Eat oatmeal and drink coffee. Write a bit.
Stuff my sleeping bag into a compression sack. Roll up my sleeping mat.
Take down my tent. Roll it up.
Put on the same smelly clothes I wore yesterday.
Bandage my feet. Put on the same two pairs of sock. Lace up my boots.
Pack my backpack in the same way :
sleeping bag & pad on the bottom,
then goes my fuzzy vest for back cushion,
then the bear box and bag of sleeping clothes,
then the jetboil and camelback.
On the top pockets are where my food for the day and books go.
On the front pockets goes my minimal first aid kit/toiletries and randoms.
And the side pockets are where my water bottle, sunglasses, and tent live.
On my waist pocket is my knife and a handkerchief and sunscreen.
And that’s it. That’s all I have with me.
Then I hit the trail.
Rest when I am tired, which is less often now than it was.
Eat lunch when I am hungry…usually trail mix and a meal bar.
I never know who I will run into, what views I will see, what I will encounter.
That’s where the excitement lies!
I walk some more. Drink some more. Maybe eat some more.
And I walk until I don’t feel like walking anymore or find a nice spot to call home.
I take off my pack, dance a little bit because it feels so good not to have that damn thing on!
Then I quickly set up my tent, blow up my pad, and unpack my sleeping bag.
Time to chill out!
Sometimes I am way too exhausted to eat dinner, sometimes I am ravenous.
I have lost probably an inch off my waist so far, judging by how loose my pants are.
Then I watch the sunset and am in bed shortly after that.
A day in the life! Aren’t you really jealous now!
Obviously the greatest moments are the ones spent meeting new people, feasting my eyes on new scenes, talking to plants and animals, and simply enjoying being alive.
I titled this post “Already There” because I have come to realize that there is no use rushing through this hike, or through life, because wherever it is that we currently are is exactly where we are meant to be in every moment. It is usually much different than anything imagined. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
It’s all about perspective.
How you intend to show up.
And showing up is the most important part of life.
We are constantly in a process of exchanging energy with every living being whether we realize it or not. Every person we cross paths with, every animal, every plant, every moment of time – we both give something to and receive something from.
That’s the greatest lesson I have learned so far.
Whether we feel good or not; whether we are happy or tired or frustrated or excited; whether our body hurts or feels light; whether a person is rude or purely loving…
in any situation, in any mood, in any state, in any location, we always have the choice to show up as our best selves. To let each exchange of energy be a positive one… of love, of gratitude, of joy, of communion. To make sure each being leaves our presence better than they were before… shouldn’t that be a goal for everyone?
That’s the work. What we do to fill the time isn’t always up to us.
But the intention with which we fill it, always is.
Sending so much love & light to you and yours.
(the trail name I have earned by using real walking sticks instead of light-weight trekking poles like everyone else. 🙂 Gotta love being a little different.)