I'm hiking while simultaneously helping my kids achieve their own trail goals; my oldest son is finishing his AT thru and my youngest daughter is attempting to become the youngest hiker to complete the Arizona Trail and the Florida Trail in 2017. (You can follow her at www.cubbytreks.com) Her goal is to show kids how interesting the outdoors can be! Happy trails!
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"It's getting very real right about now."
I think I've said that more than half a dozen times over the course of the last two months, when the conversation turned to my 8 year old and I walking from Mexico to Utah via the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). Every little milestone earned a "it's getting real now" label, no matter how insignificant.
Tonight I realized I misplaced out flight plans--to the point I couldn't remember what airline we were on, what web site I booked it through. Nothing. Thank God for some good ol' sleuthing and Paypal's documentation; Now I know we are flying on United into Phoenix next week. NOW it's real.
My anxiety over leaving isn't regular hiker anxiety, although there's a touch of that too. A few years ago I was diagnosed with actual anxiety. At the time I thought it was damn near preposterous. After all, I am one of the few people who doesn't get nervous speaking in front of crowds, or asking people for large donations, or walking through a Florida swamp. I thought anxiety meant being fearful of the things most people are terrified of, but in reality, my anxiety is more like, "I'm painting the house so in case I die on the trail it will be easier for my husband to sell." (Yes, these are actual words that came out of my mouth.)
To be clear, I don't believe I'm going to die on the trail, nor do I think bad things will happen to me. That's the sneaky part about anxiety: it makes you think things that aren't realistically going to happen are actual possibilities. The fear is real, the scenarios are borderline fiction.
That anxiety manifests itself in other people around me; they have "normal" anxieties about our hike. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if I carry a gun while hiking....well, let's say I could buy a nice gun! I don't worry about criminals on the trail. DO they exist? Probably. But in the greater scheme, the hiking community is a group of people that fiercely protects its own. It's like a bond between outdoor misfits: most people look out for each other, and that element of humanity is what truly makes a trail pure magic.
So now you know I would rather spend four days in a swamp (or six weeks in a desert) than go to the mall or sit in a crowded movie theater. Amazon Prime is my friend, and there's an endless amount of re-packing currently occurring in our house.
Until next time...