|A rainbow coming out of Muir hut!|
It’s been 3 months now since I summited Mount Whitney and thru-hiked the John Muir Trail. Especially the first month after I got back hasn’t been easy and even now after 3 months I still miss the trail and everything that comes around with it.
I’ve really had a hard time adapting to “normal life” and civilization, going back to work, having the daily worries (which I of course mainly create myself), meeting up with society’s and my own expectations, picking out clothes everyday (ooo trail life was sooo easy), being all clean and tidy… Na I don’t like it! I’m the kinda woman who likes a bit (eh yeah a fairly bit) of dirt under her nails, and the story of a trail carved into the lines of her face (even though I’m only 31)! I’m the kind of person who likes the tan on my skin from which you can’t say whether the sun gave it to me or if it’s the trail dust sticking to my legs…
O I loved the simplicity of life on trail! Hike, eat, sleep! Hike, eat, sleep! Hike, eat, sleep! Such a simple pattern spiced with the beauty of nature!
The longer I’m back in civilization the more I feel the longing for being out there again. I’m already planning my next hikes (climbing the Teide on Tenerifa and a walking by heart/packrafting tour -without maps and compass- through the Sarek National Park in 2014 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015) but somehow it feels like as if it’s not enough.
Is there a way I can change my life so that I can experience the freedom of just picking up my backpack at any given time and go on a longdistance hike? The lack of money actually is the only hurdle keeping me back…. Though I’m sure there is a way to go on longdistance hikes without spending too much money. Whilst hiking the JMT I met Ryan who came all the way from South Korea and had been in the States for a while…travelling without money… So there is a way…. The question is: Do I have the courage?
Even though I’ve only been out on the trail for 25 days (haha that’s actually a long time for thru-hiking the JMT haha) there are a lot of things I learned out there and a lot of things that confirmed my assumptions. Even after being trapped by a mountain lion in my tent I’m happy I started my hike solo. I sometimes wonder what more would have happened if I had kept on going solo for a longer time but then again, I would never wanna have missed the time I spend with my trail family.
I learned that I have to stop wanting to bear challenges on my own. I’ve always been the kind of woman creating challenges for herself. Each time telling myself: “If I can do that on my own, I can do anything, nothing can get to me!” It’s been like that running a marathon, it’s been like that solo hiking the JMT and so on. The mountain lion taught me that it is ok not to do everything on my own, that it is ok to be weak. Allowing yourself to be weak doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. Weak and strong are no opposites, they are complementary.
I had to start hiking solo to find out it’s ok not to hike solo, to find out I have the need to share my experiences with other people, I have the need to share my happiness, my inspiration and my passion, I have the need to share my fears and my longings… I need both… I need loneliness and I need company….
As for the mountain lion he will keep accompanying me into the future. I’m sure he’ll come up with more teachings and lessons for life. And it seems my trailname Catwoman suits me more and more. Though I’ve also become Helen again in normal life. The truth is: I’m both… I’m Helen (which comes from Helena, meaning “the shining/sparkling one” and I’m Cat!
I realise the teachings the mountain lion gave me (native americans would call it “mountain lion medicine”) are the most intense teachings I received on the trail. In that night he taught me about love and he taught me about life, he taught me about myself, about nature, about connection and about trust.
Another thing confirmed whilst hiking the JMT is my love and longing for a simple life. Carrying my home in my heart and all I need for a living on my back…. Mother earth will take care of the rest. After my first day of hiking I wrote a funny song… It’s first lines go like this:” Snail on trail, snail on trail, I am like a snail on trail. Going slow, the way to go. My backpack is my little home! So go, so slow, so easy, so breezy, so slow!” I learned it’s ok to go slow (actually my knee injury forced me to do so). There’s no need to hurry. Benchmarks on trail are like benchmarks in life… Fuck those who say: “By the time you are 30, you have to have this and that and this and that.” I have everything I’ve ever dreamt off… No it ain’t much… That’s exactly the point… it’s not about having, it’s about being, living, experiencing. It’s about touching other people’s heart!!! It’s about moving, both literally as well as figuratively!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been asking myself the question: “What am I here for? What is my gift to this world”? Whilst hiking the JMT I came closer to the answer than I’ve ever been. The answer takes away all society expectations, cuz what I have to give can’t be measured with the standards set by society. So I no longer give a fuck… And that is a pretty cool feeling! Who cares how much I’ve studied, who cares about my grades, who cares about what I know, who cares about what I own, who the hell cares? Well I do no longer!!! What I have to give and what I have to share is the sparkle in my eyes, the smile on my face, the laughing of my heart, my passion for life, my craziness, my gratefulness and my love for nature and all living beings!
If during any given day I only make one other person truely smile… If during any given day I touch somebodies heart… If during any given day I make someone laugh and in that moment make them forget their sorrows… If during any given day I move someone to tears (no matter whether they needed to be cried because they’ve been held for too long, or whether they are cried caused by deeper insight or amazement)… If during any given day I inspire someone else…. If during any given day I help another living being… If during any given day my being or my actions make the world a better place… If during any given day I make the tiniest difference… Then I fullfill my life-task!!!
So in the end the JMT left me with some amazing gifts. An answer to my life question, a night with a mountain lion, a connection with the land, meeting some truely wonderful people and the knowledge that TRUST is the ultimate key.