It has been a long and incredible journey, and now I can finally go home. The trail has been great, but Hawaii is better. :) I am sooooo stoked to be going back and to be dancing again!! Leaving Kyle was not so fun though... Its hard to leave someone who has been an extension of my own self for the last 5 months, and who has been with me through the most incredible experience of my life.. I found him way back at mile 600. We have hiked together for over 2,000 miles. Thats a lot. That is a lot more than many other pairs have survived. Lol! There have been many friendships/relationships forged and many lost. We heard of a couple who got engaged while on trail, on top of Mt.Whitney. In Chester, CA we heard they split apart and both got off trail. Yikes! A section hiker we met said that oftentimes, with pairs, you have one who is the motivator and one who is the slacker. And its kinda true! Lol. Like, with Doe Eyes and Scrub Rat, she was clearly the motivator and he the slacker. Haha! They are so cool. But with Kyle and I, neither of us were ever in much of a hurry to get anywhere, so I guess that makes both of us the slacker? :)
Its interesting how, due to the nature of the trail, it really takes a certain dynamic between two people to successfully travel together. Just because two people get along in the default life does not mean they are compatible on trail. Its so ironic too, that I am a fiercely independent person, as is Kyle, and both of us originally had the intention of *not* hiking with other people. Funny how the most epic of my travel adventures have been with strangers or almost-strangers. In my opinion, that is the way to do it. If you just set forth with no expectations, you leave yourself open to the possibility of encountering someone who very well may be your perfect travel companion. I think that, when you travel with someone you know well, you already have preconceived notions and ideas of the other person from the default world, and those characteristic don't always transfer well into a traveling type of setting.
The best advice I can give to an aspiring thru-hiker is to be open, adaptive and flexible. Try and approach the trail with no expectations, and if you're solo, try not to immediately group up with people. I think that when you leave yourself open like that, you are more receptive to what the Universe has to offer you, and therefore will get the utmost experience from this journey. The way the trail goes, things will change on the fly, and it is up to you how you deal with it. If you are too intentional on following a preplanned idea, it may not be conducive to your current situation. Its like surfing. If you are too stiff and rigid, you will fall off your board once the wave comes; if you are relaxed and can absorb the movement of the board, you will stay on and get the ride of your life.
Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) is a very common phrase you will see and hear used, yet not often enough is it truly adhered to. I think it takes a very strong and independent person to truly hike *your* own hike, and not fall victim to peer pressure or be influenced by opinions/desires of others. Its one thing to do something because *you* want to do it, its a completely different thing to be swept by a wave and just going along on some else's ride. This hike will be one of the most incredible things you will do in your entire life. For many, this is a one-shot opportunity that might not ever arise again. So why would you do anything to compromise your experience?
Many of you have asked thoughout the last few weeks, how I felt about the trail soon to be over. I honestly didn't have time to reflect on that much, because our situation was so intense. It wasn't like the hikers that finished a week before us, and had perfect weather all the way. We were cold and freezing, and it took all my focus and energy to deal with that. In a way it was a blessing in disguise, because the status of our current situation took so much out of me that I didn't really have time to lament that the hike would soon be over. In the back of my mind, I knew it was coming. Its a bittersweet feeling, really. I did have a breakdown in Winthrop. With 30 miles to go, the realization that the life I've been living the past 6 months (which is now so permanently etched into my being) will soon come to a close, was just too overwhelming. Sigh...
I am so blessed and grateful to be living in the most beautiful place in the world. Stepping off the plane at Honolulu International Airport, and feeling the rush of warm air and humidity is, to me, one of the best feelings in the world. It is as if Hawaii is wrapping a soft blanket around me and saying, "welcome back! we are glad you're home". Anyone from Hawaii, you know what I'm talking about. :) Talk about the polar opposite of where I boarded the plane, which was in Bellingham, WA. It was cold, grey, on/off rainy, and just BLEH over there. Hard to imagine just a couple days ago I was sleeping on top of snow.
|Me, Butterstuff, Squizzle, and Kyle at a Five Guys burger place, I've never been before! holy crap their soda selection is insane!! i think they have over 100 flavors you can chose from, and their dispenser is touch screen...|
|Squizzle needs a high chair|
|water fountain at the Bellingham airport. Geunius!!|
|grateful to be home in the most beautiful place in the world|