Missing the Trail

I imagine it’s a symptom of how deeply dissatisfied I am with my current work situation, but I frequently find my mind drifting to the trail. It’s close to an obsession at this point.

It doesn’t take much for my mind to be whisked away to the backcountry. Even the mundane and the unpleasant stuff seems better than doing my job. Feeling crisp, cool air as I walk to my truck in the evening makes me long for the short evenings in camp, huddled in a down hoodie before I crawl into my hammock for the night. Pondering what to eat recalls countless trail meals. Walking the pup in the morning takes me back to morning chill while I pack up camp, pull on the pack, and start the day’s work.

I thought of doing an overnight hike this weekend. It’s currently snowing in the Cascade Mountains. It’ll be warmer this weekend, and Thursday & Friday are predicted to be rainy with overnight lows Friday in the 30s (F). I could do it, but it’s not the greatest choice. (Last year, I hiked the PCT from Chinook Pass to White Pass in October, a few days after it snowed. Great hike, but everything was wet. And it was warmer than it’s predicted to be this weekend.)

So I’m torn. The logical, practical side of me says to stay home and get some long-overdue stuff done around the house. Take the pup for a few dayhikes. Go for a run. (I just started up running again.) But my heart wants to be out there, even if it’s wet and cold and miserable. (Those words are easier to write when I’m dry and warm and not miserable.)

I have a goal to hike all of the PCT in Oregon in one trip. I figure it’ll take me a month, and that 2023 is probably the earliest I can take the month off. (I already have roughed-out plans for August 2022.) One thing I’m looking forward to in that trip is experiencing the day-in, day-out business of taking a really long hike. The longest I’ve solo-hiked is seven days – Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, with The Hubs picking me up at Snoqualmie Pass. The month-long hike means experiencing hitchhiking to resupply. I’m not going to ask The Hubs to drive to Oregon every 4-7 days to drop off a resupply package — although if I mentioned it, he’d probably do it as he’d probably find it preferable to the thought of me hitchhiking. (Don’t worry – I won’t hitchhike alone, and I will listen to my gut.) It’s those little things I won’t get from hiking the PCT in Washington in chunks, as I’ve been doing the last few years.

I mention hiking all of Oregon because hiking in cool, wet weather is the kind of less-than-ideal conditions that builds the mental conditioning I’ll need to take on Oregon’s 450 miles. But in reality, I think I just miss the way hiking takes me out of my frontcountry life and gets me in touch with what really matters. The moments that connect me with nature. The moments that remind me of my place in the universe. The moments that take my breath away. It’s not always majestic mountains or sweeping views; sometimes it’s mist rising off the forest floor or the combination of colors in flora.

I miss being out there.

One thought on “Missing the Trail

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