Have you read the book Wild yet? It’s by Cheryl Strayed who lost her mother, ruined her marriage and lost her way in life…and then decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Did I mention she wasn’t a hiker? Had never done any trekking before? She didn’t break her boots in before she left!?
It’s an interesting read. I went from relating SO well to her – her writing about the emotions of losing her mother were EXACTLY how I felt. To wanting to murder her for her stupidity in the things she did to ‘prepare’ and things she did on the trail. Reese Witherspooon will play Cheryl in an upcoming movie about the book. I’m looking forward to it.
I’m not even sure how I ended up there.
I can understand the need to push yourself after losing a parent. I can also understand the need to free yourself from a failed relationship. I did this as well but not in the same big way that Cheryl did. I went on a hike of my own, but an organized one through Outward Bound. One week. In the BC mountains. All women. I had never hiked before. In hindsight, I’m not even sure how I ended up there. My friend Heather and I had discussed doing it – somehow I ended up in a fleabag motel in Vancouver, waiting to meet my group the next morning, without my friend.
Part of your trip is a 24 hour solo. You’re left with a tarp, sleeping bag, some water, small bag of food, toiletries and a journal. I had plans for my time! I was going to write! Plan out my next steps in life! Instead? I pitched that tarp. Took a naked shower in the pouring rain. Tied my food way high up in a tree to avoid the bears and got into my sleeping bag and slept. I slept the entire time. My leaders had to wake me up from that sleep when they came to pick me up after my 24 hours. No reflection. No deep thoughts. Just indulgent, ridiculous amounts of sleep.
The trip itself all flooded back to me when I pulled out the pictures tonight. I remembered volunteering to be the lead hiker on our first trek. I regretted that decision within 3 minutes and panted and wheezed for the next two hours. But I did it. I remembered how all the girls mocked me because I couldn’t crouch and pee, I was always the one looking for a felled tree to form a makeshift toilet out of. I remembered the silence. The silence on that solo was so loud it almost rang in your ears. I remembered the camaraderie of these women who I only knew for 7 days. They pushed me to complete my rock climbing, when I hung near the top in tears for 10 minutes. We all joined together to empty the pack of the tiniest woman who was on our trip and carry her stuff for her. We all ran to a freezing cold river at the end of our trip, stripped down and swam and then lay on the hot rocks to dry. Again, in silence, thinking about all the stuff we had left behind and that we were heading back to.
I could never do what Cheryl Strayed did. Never. It’s not that I don’t have the guts..I just have some common sense. But I do admire her for trying to break out of the womb of comfort that her mom had enveloped her in. I get it. In my opinion? Your whole life you never really leave that womb until your mom is gone. Really, only then do you start a true independent life. That mountain climbing trip, while I didn’t know it at the time, was the start of my independent life.
Will was curious about the pictures I was looking at. He sat with me and said, ‘wow, mom you’ve sure had a lot of adventures.’ And I have – Will being one of my biggest.
But there are SO many more to come.