As I sit here thinking about sharing our previous section of hiking with you, my thoughts keep drifting to the subject of health, bravery, and keeping going even when the body feels tired. And so I feel the need to clear up the myth that you need to be in great shape, brave, and a super athlete to even think about attempting something like the Continental Divide Trail, because it is just not true. I am not an image of health, bravery, or anything close to an athlete. I am a complicated, messy, human just like most people.
My body has many ailments, including a bum knee, a crushed disc in my lower back, orthostatic hypotension, and low blood sugar. I am not a picture of bravery. My youth was filled with much depression, though perhaps that was just teenage angst. I still fear the dark just as I did as a little girl, and though sometimes I make it through the scariest moments without even a wince, other times the smallest of things can turn me into a snivelling, whimpering, petrified, statue of fear. Fifteen years ago I weighed over two hundred pounds. I am not athletic–I just love being outside in a beautiful place. I am a very slow hiker. I cannot physically carry a heavy pack. I never went to summer camp, I was never in the Girl Scouts, and my first overnight hiking trip was not until my mid-thirties.
The changes in my life and the things that have led me to where I am are many, but what comes to mind most is my mother. She encouraged learning and questioning what I have learned, she encouraged me to be me, and most importantly (though having nothing to do with this post), she drove home the point to never judge anyone because I have not lived their story. I am sure I took some of her lessons differently than she had meant, but they truly are the core of who I am. I feel that from the time I was a very little girl I was given the gift to reject the status quo and the permission to be any weird or different thing I wanted to be, while at the same time I was encouraged to enjoy others for who they are instead of by the expectations of who society wants us to be. These were huge gifts that have given me strong will. And it is this will that keeps me going.
If there is something I think one needs to do big things, such as a thru-hike of the CDT, it is the want to do it and the will to keep at it …then everything else becomes just a hurdle to get through instead of a wall blocking one’s path. But for the record, if you come upon a wall blocking your path, do not stop–go around it, turn around and find another way, be flexible and keep moving. Your goal may turn out to be something different than what you thought it was, but keep moving and your dreams will follow.