Monday, February 20, 2012

Sore shoulders and solo walking.

My pack bounced uncomfortably as I huffed and puffed my way towards the trail head on a snowed-in road that meandered for three miles at a gradual incline. I ran because my competitive side refused to allow friends on skis to overtake me and my hour long head-start. I ran to escape the cold even as I began sweating and stripped down to a tank top on a cold New Hampshire winter's night in February. I ran because it hurt. And I ran because I love the feeling that comes with being alone in the woods headed towards a destination on a trail, moving fast. It's a feeling of purpose. A feeling that I am using my body the way it is meant to be used.

The other day I looked over my photos and felt overwhelming longing; nostalgia for even the mundane and dreary aspects of hiking and backcountry caretaking. It's almost beginning to feel as if the only thing I can excel at is living in the woods. This is both a good feeling and an unnerving one.

I had almost seven miles by myself to think about this, walking through the night to reach a hut filled with warmth and friends. In the eyes of a long distance hiker it was a small amount of mileage but it was just enough time and distance to think about why this lifestyle is so important to me. My departure from comfort and financial stability happened for a reason. It's changing me. I need this.

So now I sit gently probing my bruised shoulders where the pack's weight bore down. It's a nice reminder of what really matters in my life.

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