I'm back! No, not really, but I'm getting closer! As I crossed the Colorado River, I waved farewell to California, and accepted my hot and lonely fate hiking the Arizona Trail. But not before a chance meeting with a good friend from southern Utah that happened to be passing thru Phoenix.
Now I'm not the most likely person to search for hidden signals and meanings in the day to day life, but I have to wonder if the cosmos have kept me away from hiking for a reason. As soon as I hit Cali, there were endless reasons to stay and play, and up and down the coast were offers to stick around and adventure. I even had a suggestion to go hiking on the Wonderland Trail in British Columbia. Then Cinco de Mayo snuck up, giving me a less than necessary excuse to relax by the pool sipping frilly drinks with my sister and her friends. And the tacos. I probably would have stayed in Cali just for those amazing mouth fiestas. Then a friend I haven't seen in months just "happens" to be in Phoenix to guide a trip with some teens? Heck, I almost joined them as they headed up to Flagstaff!
And then, the latest hint...while sitting at the Greyhound station I somehow managed to ignore that my bus loaded and left without me. Oops! No tears or sweat lost over that one though, when you don't have anywhere to be, it doesn't matter when you get there!
This trip has been a good test for me to see of I can just let go. Let go of the planning, the stress. I have my trusty pack filled with the essentials, shoes on my feet, and a carefree attitude typically reserved for young children and dogs.
I've had a great time, and the chance to relax. There's no pressure to follow anyone else's schedule, and to be honest, there's not even pressure to hike the Arizona Trail at this point. I'm going back because I want to, I want to see what's next, I want to challenge myself and see if I can handle the heat and loneliness. But should I want to leave, I'll leave. Last summer, I think that I talked a young guy off the Pacific Crest Trail because he didn't know what he was doing out there, but he was there to prove it to all the doubters on his life. If you're doing something to prove it to others and not yourself, you give them a huge portion of your success. It's not driven internally, and the ownership is shared, but why should you share your amazing accomplishments with someone that didn't believe or support you on the first place? I hope one day he makes it back to the PCT, but I hope he makes it back for himself, not for me, or anyone else.
Thankfully, I have come to a point in my life where I have surrounded myself with the most supportive and non-judgmental people I can find. (And if they are judgmental they have at least kept mum!) As a result, I don't think failure will every be an option for me. Not that I won't fail at things, (you should see me ice skate!) but I have learned to be gentle with myself and know that everyone around me will treat me the same. To me at least, failure is the feeling that happens when I have let someone down. And sometimes the most important person to not let down is yourself. So should I hike to Utah, fricken sweet. Should I bail out on the next 5 miles, it's still good, I've gotten exactly what I wanted out of this trail.
Oh...And the people I've met...amazing.