This week has been hard. There has been no specific event that has made it that way, it is more the quiet accumulation of mixed emotions, unmet expectations, and exhaustion. Yesterday I asked myself: am I having the experience I wanted to have? The question hit me like a brick wall and the honest answer is no. Im not. I started this hike solo but did not expect to stay solo. Friends made in the desert have all dispersed. With the snow this year, everyone has a different plan on how to get to Canada. I said goodbye to most of my trail community in Agua Dulce and flipping up to Nor Cal has made me feel even farther from any sort of familiarity. As I hike through this new remote wilderness I feel very alone. I tried to convince myself I like being alone. I am “strong and independent.” But if there’s anything I’ve learned so far from this experience is my need for people. I need that connection, that comradely, the mental stimulation from conversation. I am almost in Oregon, my home state and am realizing how homesick I have been. I am craving community and connection, and creature comforts. Maybe this is the luster of the trail wearing off but I’m tired of washing my socks, I’m tired of eating the same dehydrated food. I want to be outside of my own thoughts, to put my energy and time into something other than hiking all day. Sleep, wake, hike, thinking. I am tired. Yet, I know that I must continue. I go to bed questioning my reason for being here, trying to remember and cling to my “why”. I go to bed without an answer.
Maybe it’s the wonderful bakery in Etna, maybe it’s the warm hospitality from the locals, or maybe it’s being around other hikers again but I feel revived and re-stoked for the trail. I meet a local man who gives me a tour of his shop where he builds bikes, we have breakfast together and I watch him greet almost every person that enters the bakery. I love small towns. I talk to folks who work at the local church camp and consume copious amounts of baked goods. I am not ready to leave this wonderful little town but Oregon is calling and I must go. With promises to visit again, I set out into the heat wave, and I continue on.
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