When I hit the trail again on Monday afternoon after Jan had dropped me off and helped me with my resupply in Dunsmuir, I was feeling pumped. I felt clean, well fed and comfortable in my new hiking attire. The only thing I was lacking was sleep, having stayed up until 1:30am to update my blog for the previous two days.
Whether being tired had anything to do with it or not, my mind quickly dipped deeper and deeper into a dark place that left me zapped of energy and motivation. Where did this come from? After 3 miles I slumped onto the trail with my pack still attached and my legs sprawled out. I closed my eyes and let out a huge sigh. I had the flute whistle that the Numerologist in Sierra City sold me after telling me I’m a musical soul and have good rhythm. She either read me wrong or lied because the noise that transpired wasn’t even close to what the average person would call music. I am usually too embarrassed to play with the fear that someone may hear me, but I was so low in my own thoughts I didn’t care on this occasion. The flute actually now doubles as my bear scarer.
At the first water source I bumped into a hiker who was also in a crabby mood, and not long after Bill showed up looking glum and dissatisfied from his stop in Castella. We all grumbled as we filled up our water bottles and continued up the 4000 foot climb. I cowboy camped with a gorgeous view of Castle Crags, but woke in a worse mental state than the previous day. Not even coffee could snap me out of this one.
I had so much going on in my head that I actually hiked well this morning because I was stamping my way briskly down the trail. I had a fellow hiker step aside when they saw me coming in fear I would trample them. There’s been so many emotions to process and not a lot of time to do so. It got me thinking a lot about this blog, how much time I’m dedicating to it and whether it’s taking away from the hike itself.
The blog has grown from December when the only person reading it and commenting was my mum, now it’s impossible to know who’s viewing it. I guess I’ve become more aware of my audience and as a result less able to write down every thought, action or even names of other hikers anymore. The hiker who I met yesterday who was grumpy at the creek asked specifically not to have their name mentioned. This made me question just how ‘real’ I can be through this medium.
In my darkest mindset as I walked today, I thought about discontinuing the blog posts and starting up a written journal instead, where I can write down my thoughts without the scrutiny of an audience. I had myself settled on the idea until I thought about some of the recent comments I’d received, like the one from Nina who said she reads my posts to her two young boys to inspire them to one day take on big challenges in their own lives. I also think back to the folks at Drakesbad and Zion, the young boy who told me he was inspired, and wonder if he is still following along. I’ve had so much incredible feedback and words of support that I’m completely overwhelmed, but those comments have got me through some of my darkest days and I realised it wouldn’t be right to simply end the story now.
What I do need to do though is make some changes so I’m not focussing too much attention on telling my story rather than living it. I also need to avoid burning myself out. I’m not exactly sure what the answer is, but I think it will start with cutting down from blogging each day to maybe every second or third, or simply just when I feel like telling one of many stories from the trail. I may also need to add less pictures/videos as the upload time can be horrendous with limited reception on the trail.
My other update is that although I have loved receiving so many special gifts and goodies along the way from a number of you, I now have enough supplies to make it all the way to Canada and I simply don’t want anything sent to me to go to waste. The best gift you can give me is to make a pledge on my ‘Donate’ page to either commit to your own personal challenge or to donate to an organisation that you truly believe in. The objective of this blog was to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and believe you can conquer any challenge you set yourself. I’m already fortunate to be living this experience, so it would be wonderful to hear what kind of adventures it has inspired you to take on in the near future.
I hadn’t felt like writing until tonight and I think taking two days off from the routine has helped alleviate some of the pressure I have been putting on myself. I am camped by a beautiful lake and watched an incredible sunset across it from inside my tent this evening. Despite some crashing sounds around the campsite earlier it’s completely silent now. I played my magic flute and the world fell silent. Goodnight from mile 1542, I believe tomorrow will be a brighter day.