So… why are you doing this?
When I started I didn’t think I had a great answer. Now, at day 66 (and 900 miles – fuck YEAH!) I see the reasons why I’m here as being more fluid, evolving over time.
5 years ago, one of my college roommates told me about the PCT (because she was doing it!) and I was like, “DAMN. I’m going to do that.” I didn’t know how or when, but it was going to happen.
5 years passed, and it hadn’t happened. After a year immersed in severe depression, insomnia, anxiety, and suicidal wishes, I had just enrolled at Cornell University to do an Engineering Ph.D. that I didn’t believe in. I felt trapped, and I was still depressed and suicidal.
So I left. It was one of the most difficult things I have done: turning away from the future in scientific academia that my parents and society expected of me. But at that point, I realized that if I didn’t live my life, I’d probably end it.
I had a trip to Patagonia planned with one of my best friends, and my time there became a period of healing for me. During those 3 months, I saw some of the most amazing things I have ever seen and through hiking, I gradually became confident that I had recovered from the depression. I was the happiest I had been in at least 15 months.
So I felt I could get back to what I actually wanted to do: hiking and music. And I’ve started with the PCT.
So the trail is my way of getting back to my life. Not a life colored by my fears and other’s expectations of what I should do. It’s a way to build my confidence and self-reliance, a way to become more rooted in the present, and a way to live my childhood dreams of living out in the woods. It’s also my way of digging up whatever lingering depression is hiding in my subconscious so that I can face it directly.
The trail is so many things to me and yet it’s just also just a trail. Each hiker imbues it with a different meaning. And it’s meaning for me is a projection of my experiences from this past year.