I didn’t want to hike this weekend
I stared at my backpack all morning. I told myself I’d leave around 9 or 10, have a good hard hike, camp on the mountain and have another hard hike tomorrow. But mid morning came and went and I didn’t feel like going. I felt like taking a nap, so I did, on the couch. I woke up an hour later, still feeling groggy so I went to my bed and slept into the afternoon.
I did not want to hike today. I haven’t had the desire the past month which would be fine if I didn’t have my first big thru hike to train for. Between this feeling of apathy and the sudden semi-urgent/could possibly wait $1,500 dental surgery that popped up this month I’ve partially thought about scraping the hike all together.
Why am I even doing this hike? Is it to prove something to myself? Is it to prove something to other people? To show that once and for all I belong in the outdoor community? Honestly it’s probably a combination of those things.
I’m worried it’s going to be too hard for me. This high snow year is going to make the water crossings scary and the mosquitos are already horrendous. And what about all those passes I have to hike over? What if I want to quit after a week when after the half way point all the hard stuff will be over? Why did I decide to do all the hard stuff first?
I just wasn’t feeling it. By 4pm my bag was still fully packed, sitting on the couch. I stared at it again, willing myself to load it up in my car and at least camp up the mountain. I can always hike tomorrow. But I’d rather just stay home and watch tv curled up on the couch. What it I feel that was when I’m on trail? I’m a big homebody, am I really ready to have a tent be my home for almost a month?
I shed a couple tears of frustration with myself and eventually decide to drive up the mountain, hike in a bit and camp. The spot I had in mind doesn’t have any good tent spaces so I hike down 1.5 miles the #5 Lemmon Trail to the junction on a ridge so I can have an awesome sunset view and an awesome sunrise view. I hike past climbers finishing their day out at Rap Rock and the Ravens. I feel better now that I’m up here. Moving my body, getting some endorphins, and feeling the cooler air helps lift my mood.
I’ve also been feeling anxious about camping and hiking by myself again. I’ve hiked by myself so many times! I’ve camped and backpacked by myself! Why is this fear and anxiety popping up again?
Bravery isn’t something you do once and then check off your list. It’s a constant thing. Just because you’ve done a brave thing doesn’t mean you’re not scared to do it again.
I hardly sleep. My new sleep set up is the most comfortable set up I’ve ever had but still I can’t sleep. The wind is rustling in the pines above me. I kept my rainfly off so I could see the stars. I tell myself bears and mountains lions won’t be looking for food on a ridge, I’m safe from them. But my imagination gets the best of me and I keep thinking about being their midnight snack. I toss and turn and around midnight finally decide to put in my earplugs. This helps a bit but sleep still eludes me.
Great. Once again I can’t sleep in the backcountry. I check my phone at 3:30am and will myself to just try, please try to get a few hours? The next thing I know it’s light out. The sky to the east is tinted pink and my first thought is “whew, I made it through the night.”
An early morning hiker click-clacks their trekking poles down the trail near my campsite. I slowly get up, make coffee and oatmeal, take in the overcast morning and eventually pack up my stuff and head out. I decided to do 8 miles today, I’m feeling good despite my lack of sleep.
I feel strong and capable, until I run out of water 4 miles in and when I get to my known water source it’s completely dry. Ok. I can figure this out. I hike some more and find a murky puddle and I manage to filter 8oz from it. Will this last me these last 4 miles? As soon as I’ve resided to be thirsty until I can drink my car water, I see a bigger pool of not so murky water. Everything is fine. I have water. The trail provides.
I slowly hike out the last 2 miles, up Aspen Trail over Radio Ridge telling myself “I’m almost there, it’s so close, one step then another, you’ve got this” It’s not even that steep and I’m so slow. How am I going to manage the steep passes of the Sierras? This worry and self doubt only grows as I read trip reports of hikers who have finished or bailed. “Hard, but doable” is the sentiment I get over and over again. Do I want to put myself through that?
I finally get back to my car and I feel good. I can do this, I think. But do I still want to do this? I swing back and forth, believing I can do this big hike and then wondering if this is a mistake and I’m not ready for something this big yet. I won’t know unless I try but part of me is even scared to try. I just keep thinking 24 days is a long time. 220+ miles is a lot of miles.
I don’t know if I can do this.