Hi Everyone! I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on the blog. As many of you have noticed, I’ve taken an indefinite step away from blogging and long distance hiking. I’ve been giving it some time to settle into things here at home (Portland, OR) before posting this epilogue for a very significant chapter in my life.
In May, I returned from Nepal with a somewhat unexpected answer to the question, “What’s next!?” If you have yet to read that post, it’s worth reading (or rereading) to fully appreciate all that I will be attempting to explain in this possibly closing post. In short, of all the places in the world that I have the freedom to roam, I want to be HOME in the Pacific Northwest!
Some of you have kept up on my adventures this past summer via my public Instagram feed. That is where I’ve been most active in sharing publicly, and where I will mainly be sharing my journeys in the future. You’ll notice pretty quickly that I’ve gone in a surprising direction that some would consider backwards. I’ve been transitioning from long distance backpacking to shorter trips, much less distance, more day hiking, car camping, lounging in a hammock, and owning a camp chair for the first time in my life. It’s been glorious, ha!
I’ll come back to that in a minute, but first, a bit of background. The main point I made in my last post is that I see life as the ultimate thru-hike. The past 8 years of long distance hiking and blogging are just one section of a much bigger hike that is life. Although, many know me through long distance hiking, and I’ve valued the rare and unique time I’ve had to spend on long trails, it does not define me.
As my trail name “Wired” indicates, I have always lived a life that burns the candle at both ends; working hard and playing hard. I just have never known any other way. Two summers ago, I did some solo travel in the mountains of France. I started to feel a change within myself wanting to downshift a bit. I was making progress towards being more gentle to myself and allowing myself more time to relax without feeling undeserving. I started to stop earlier at the end of my hiking days, and slept in each morning. Then, overall throughout the days, I pushed less. In the past, doing this would make me feel anxious or antsy. For the first time, taking it easy felt surprisingly good, and I was allowing myself that space. Maybe I finally got the wired-ness out of my system!
From that trip, I returned home to Portland last year having discovered a newfound feeling of levity that was really quite remarkable for me. I was acutely aware of this and didn’t want to lose it, but the gears were already in motion for my challenging trip to Nepal and my regular 60+ hour work weeks (that allow me to take months off) of substitute teaching and nannying…not exactly a relaxing plan. Soon after returning, I made new a friend named Julie at a backpacking seminar. Like me, Julie moved to the Pacific Northwest after a lifetime in Illinois, had been in the field of education in the Chicago area, likes to watch shows (ha!), and was also focusing on shifting from the overworked lifestyle to one that allows more quality relaxed time…especially time spent outdoors.
We were a good influence on one another. We kept each other accountable to NOT working too much and spending more relaxed time both in and outdoors (to clarify the misconception, thru-hiking is quite tiring). It was remarkably refreshing and fun. Over time, we came to the realization that we both had found our life partner in one another. It was actually just as simple as that. Like a final puzzle piece to complete it all, that fits just right. Pretty awesome!
I reluctantly left Portland in the spring and went through the motions in Nepal. Understandably, I just wasn’t interested in being away from home. Independently of meeting Julie, my motivations and goals were shifting over the last couple years. As life goes, things evolve, and I am just excited to “be” for the first time in my life. It might seem a bit backwards, but I am truly excited to have a leisurely 40 hour work week and not work on weekends for just about the first time ever. That to me is my personal pre-retirement. It’s so enjoyable!
Of course, never say never, but I don’t foresee future multi-month trips and blogging. There are no plans for long distance hiking or transforming Julie into a long distance backpacker. I still may do shorter long hikes if I ever get the bug, but I really doubt I’d blog about them. For now, I’m really enjoying local day hiking, shorter backpacking trips, and car camping. All of that is as exciting and new to me as thru-hiking would be to others. So much is catered to mainstream backpacking and hiking that the possibilities are endless.
We definitely foresee a life together with much of it spent outdoors. It doesn’t need to be thru-hiking, and I actually prefer that it not be. I’ve been there and done that. We have found something that is OURS in the more conventional outdoor experiences. Some may scoff at the thought and wonder how I could possibly enjoy being in more of the mainstream areas that have crowds after thru-hiking. Really, it’s not about escaping people, but more about enjoying nature in our own bubble of contentment.
I don’t want to neglect or minimize the significance of the past 8 years. We have all gone on this journey together with no idea of where it would lead. Look how far we’ve come! Those of you that have been there since the beginning know that there was much more than hiking going on out there for me. The trail and blog gave me so much, but most importantly, I feel like it gave me the appreciation for the details that make up the whole; those small moments, sights, and crossings that may seem slight or insignificant. It doesn’t need to be a grand view or epic mountain summit to be impactful, worthy and momentous. In fact, it’s the quiet and simple ones that I most cherish. The trail gave me that, and with it came a great deal of levity, peace, and HAPPINESS.
It’s been a privilege to have kept such a memorable account of these years on the blog, and to also have it be a resource to others. The ripple effects of sharing the journey is something I will never be able to fully comprehend. It’s pretty amazing, and I am keenly aware of that. This has been a special place for all of us, and I know a source of inspiration and hope for many. I know that this goodbye is bittersweet. I encourage those of you interested, to continue to follow the journey as I will be sharing at times through Instagram. Farewell, and all the best to everyone on your future journeys. Thank you for being part of mine:)