For my 2019 writing challenge and in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020, I am spending the entire year reading and writing about books focused on a journey. For my fourth book, I dove into “Wild by Nature” by Sarah Marquis.
In a Foreign Land
As a product of the United States, the idea of hiking in America doesn’t seem daunting compared to the idea of attempting the same challenge in a foreign land. Cultural customs and norms different from my own reveal another level of complexity much different than the trip I am planning. Differences aside, I can appreciate the planning a domestic and foreign thru-hike share: getting to know the route, water caches, first aid, stops to recuperate, knowing when to bail, etc.
There were multiple times in this book where Sarah was on a trail all alone in the middle of nowhere. Now, I’ve hiked by myself, but I’ve never been truly alone doing it. There were other hikers, campers, and/or people passing through. I’ve never experienced solitude on the trail and the very thought of it scares me. What terrifies me is not the being alone. It is the unknown. What if an encounter with a wild animal goes horribly wrong? What if I get injured or sick? What if I get lost? I know proper preparation, letting people know where you are, and trial by fire is the only way to overcome these fears, but I am not sure if I will ever be able to do it.
During Sarah’s journey, she was forced to leave the trail for an extended period and evaluate a better plan for finishing her journey. The thought of doing the same thing on the Pacific Crest Trail worries me. For those currently on the trail making their way north, they are encountering near record-level snowfall in the Sierras. Many will trudge on. Others will skip this part and jump further north; skipping the Sierras altogether or choosing to come back and do them later. For me, there is a deep-seated desire to walk every mile of this trail possible from the Mexican border to the Canadian. Not being able to walk every mile would lessen the journey and cheapen the experience for me.
Sarah’s journey ended at a small tree in the wilds of Australia. To the best of her ability, she attempted to capture the emotions of that moment, but I know that is nearly impossible. I know it, not from any personal experience, because I know words often fail us for life’s grandest moments. I also know this to be especially true when attempting to describe the grandeur of nature and all its splendor. One day, when my journey is through, I am sure I will take to pen and paper and ultimately fail at summing up the moment.
Be good to each other,
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