Thf2 end post
(I had to make a very difficult decision recently, to end my thru-hike and come back to “civilization.” After almost 2,000 miles, I felt it was time. I wanted to relate the reasons why and what went in to the decision, as well as let everyone know how I’m doing with the decision. I wanted to write this sooner, but I struggled with finding the right time & words to write).
I crossed the dirt road, and looked for where the trail would pick up again. Figuring it was down the road to my right, I began walking. I was going over the list of things I’d need to be focusing on that day and the next to make a smooth resupply. A large pickup passed headed the other way, three men in full hunting gear out for the day it seemed.
Two minutes later, I stopped walking. An unreal thought passed through my mind and made a home:
“This is where you get off the trail. Time to go home.”
I stood there, struck with a sad, numb feeling. But…at peace.
If not for the peace, I would have fought it. I’d be in Canada right now, barring injury, and looking forward to visiting with my cousins in Seattle. I would be right where I had imagined, right where I’d pictured myself for over a year, with a sense of accomplishment at being counted as one of those who completed the 2011 PCT thru-hike. It had been such an incredible experience, the most challenging test I’d put myself through, and I’d made it this far.
But there on that Oregon dirt road, I knew this hike was over.
This hike has never been about me. It has, from the start, been about those whose lives have been devastated and changed forever by the horror of human trafficking. That was who I’ve been hiking for. Not myself. But, to have made it that far, there’s a need to be fully invested and sold out for the complete hike. I wouldn’t have made it 2,000 miles otherwise.
But, in the process, I ended up combining everything together. The cause I was hiking for, success, and finishing all in one. To make a difference, and for the hike to be a success, I had to finish. This didn’t become my thought process all at once, but once it was there, it was ingrained and made it difficult to separate one from the other.
Understanding finally came to me on that dirt road in Oregon. The hike would have been a success if I had stopped after 200 miles. Or 500. Or 1,200. The distance or the fact I finished or not was not as important as other aspects.
I had raised awareness of human trafficking. I had raised funds which will go to help those affected by human trafficking. And, I had made myself available. In an entry from Ashland, Oregon, I had included some quotes regarding hiking. Essentially, a lot can happen inside a person when they spend time in nature. I felt that God had had close to five months with me…and especially those last 1,000 miles that I had been hiking solo. I came to realize that finishing the PCT on this attempt was not the goal…getting me away, alone, on a trail like the PCT…THAT was the first step. Then, breaking me down, physically, emotionally, spiritually…that was the second step. Then, once God had my full attention, showing me what I was supposed to do once I returned from the trail. That process was one of the main reasons I was led to take this adventure.
So there I was. Standing there, my trusty McHale pack strapped to my back, in need of a good bath, but otherwise feeling great, physically. And, I was at peace with my new realization.
It was just “time.”
I turned around, and began the long walk towards civilization. Down this road twelve miles…head south on the next paved road, then southwest on US 97 to Klamath Falls. I was sure to find a train or bus heading down towards Sacramento from there. Thankfully, the kindness of strangers who were brave (or crazy?) enough to pick up an extremely homeless looking, dirt covered & odiforous vagabond, I was able to get around the potentially long walk to Klamath.
As I walked down US 97, though, before I found a ride, I asked God to show me a sign. Something that would be a definitive answer to my question of, “I’m doing the right thing, right?” as I walked, at that exact moment, a shiny object caught my eye on the ground to my right. It was a CD. I’d seen a lot of stray CD’s laying on the sides of roads on this hike, but this one was different. This CD had actual printing on it, like a store bought CD; the others had all been blanks, undoubtedly used to make mixes with. This one was professional. I stopped walking, bent down to pick it up, and read the front. It was a John Denver CD. (I’ll admit, I like John Denver!) and then read the CD title:
“Take Me Home, Country Roads.”
I just broke out laughing. Ok! There it was! I asked, and got an immediate answer.
So, what now?
Well, thankfully, I’m safe, healthy, and despite losing some crazy weight, I feel amazing. My pants don’t fit, some shirts are baggier, my feet hurt as if I’ve taken a hammer to them, and I crave burgers and food that’s terrible for me!
I’m back home in Sacramento, all moved in to a new place, and back at work. So I’m feeling a bit in ‘whirlwind’ mode, not to mention the adaptive post-trail shock of being back in society. That alone has taken some getting used to. I generally adapt pretty well to any environment, but going from the natural beauty of the Pacific Crest Trail to living where there’s hundreds of thousands of people…cars…pollution…STUFF…I mean, I even heard someone honking their car horn this week! I hadn’t heard that sound for almost 5 months! Air conditioning? Restrooms? Of course, with the crazy came the good: water anywhere anytime, loved ones, football on tv, and my cat. Oh…and food that you don’t prepare just by adding water to!
Ultimately, I felt as if God had taken me out there, to a place where His beauty was on full display, thrust into daily situations where I needed to lean on Him for strength, guidance, and support. It was out there, where He had my full attention, where I felt He wanted me. There were some great conversations we had, and He showed me what He wanted me to do with the project I had started for human trafficking victims, and how he wanted me to proceed with that. I’ve shared a little about the non-profit I’ll be starting, and will be sharing more about how that will look in the next few weeks.
Until then, I’ll be working to get my feet back on the ground here, and piecing together the details of the non-profit. Please stay tuned, as I’ll also have some analysis of my hike, gear breakdowns, food & diet overviews, pictures (lots of pictures!) and more.
What an adventure, right?? Thank you for following along, and for all of your support in so many ways. What an honor to have shared this with you.
Again, my apologies for keeping you all in limbo as to where I was!