Trail life is like an alternate reality. You know everyone on the trail even when you’ve never met before. People you’ve been leap frogging with for days, you find out went to your highschool. Hikers are all from different backgrounds, different times, and have such different stories. Yet, we all relate to each other.
Yesterday, on my zero day, I bounced around between 3 very different groups of people. The one thing we have in common is this trail. And perhaps having a good time. I’ve met people who were pure, people who do drugs, people with illnesses, people without families. It is both amazing and heartbreaking. To hear their stories and feel where they’re coming from. I am humbled and I know my struggles are nothing. I have lived a charmed life. When someone you meet is counting down the days ’til he dies from an illness and wanted to do this trail against his doctor’s orders, it puts everything into perspective (I hope he never reads this or he’ll be embarrassed). If this guy can do this without a loving family by his side, without close friends cheering him on, with a pace-maker dictating his every move at the age of 27, then anyone can. No one has any excuses to do anything.
On a lighter note, the hiker site next to us was having a Cinco De Mayo sangria party and everyone was welcome. We were from several different countries, but bound together by good music, good food, good drinks, and good company. Drunk singing of “play that funky music, white boy,” will forever be engrained in my memory. It helped everyone to (temporarily) forget about our endeavors.
I know I have felt alone and have struggled through this, but the past few days have changed how I’m looking at it. I have it easy, and my biggest challenge is still between my ears, but other’s struggles are real and tangible. I’m going to work on my mind and be more open to everything and everyone around me.
It has been a strange and wonderful week. Starting off in the desert, running out of water continuously. Meeting with 25 other hikers at a cafe, seeing everyone is hurting as much as I am. Then being in the mountains with beautiful shade trees and hanging out with people for several days. It was warm enough in the mountains that I was able to wear a tank top. Two days later, when my family arrived, it was snowing. We were spoiled in my parents’ mansion-tent, complete with electric heater (and my friend had this image of roughing it this weekend). After the snow-filled weekend, I made my way back down the mountain. My toes hurt.