CDT pre-trail excitement brought out our wanderlust these last few days so we decided to ride motorcycles to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In one word, Stunning! The desert is amazingly beautiful there, even more so than I had imagined. And much like a teenage girl seeing her favorite rock-star in person for the first time I shrieked with excitement when I saw my first Organ Pipe cactus (and it was a series of very embarrassing sounds I might add).
What really made this pre-trail road-trip to Organ Pipe special was that this was the first time I had ridden my motorcycle on pavement. Having never ridden before, my husband and I had gotten our motorcycle licenses in September of 2011 after hiking 550 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail and swearing that our next big adventure would be a motorcycle food tour across Europe with no walking. As this whole motorcycle tour idea progressed we decided that riding to Alaska was logistically easier and as a bonus we could visit Denali National Park, as Denali is the last State Highpoint we have yet to climb. As the New Year rolled around (2012) we had purchased motorcycles, gear, and were preparing for a never-ending ride to Alaska from southern Arizona. Just weeks before we were planning to leave for Alaska my husband was approached with an early retirement buy-out from his government job. One thing led to another and with this new time on our hands we decided to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail instead. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was a life changing experience that I am still trying to find the words to clearly articulate. But in any case we didn’t do the Alaska motorcycle trip and up until these last few days I had only had the nerve to venture round and round on the myriad of dirt roads where we live in the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona.
The day before we left for Organ Pipe my husband said to me “you ever notice how a lot of people talk about doing things, but never do them?” My response was that I think it comes down to fear. We all use a lot of logistical and responsibility reasons why, but I think really it is fear …fear that it is too big, too much, too scary, fear of failure, fear that we might not like it, we might quit. There are so many reasons… the list is infinite! And this is the way big things happen for me. My fears keep me testing my boundaries. With each new thing, I take all these little, tiny, baby steps repeating the same little, tiny, task over and over and then suddenly jump over the middle to something huge (or at least it seems huge in my head). I had ridden the same loop near our house on my motorcycle at least a couple dozen times and no amount of bribery from my husband could get me out onto pavement. It took something bigger, something farther, something that seemed nearly out of reach to entice me to go. I needed to see those Organ Pipe Cacti even if it meant my first 400-mile round-trip motorcycle ride on pavement.
And this is how it happens… I want to go to Glacier National Park and what better way to get there than to walk there on the Continental Divide! I want to touch again that which was so familiar to me on the Pacific Crest Trail, something so primal, something I have touched here and there on my mountain adventures. We are human – I think we need to touch the sun! I know I need to touch the sun!
Yes, I am afraid of Grizzly bears, I am afraid of scary snow travel, and at 40 years old I am still afraid of the dark. How does one overcome the fears that keep them from doing the things that they desire to do? I don’t know—I think you just have to go and find out along the way.