The question ain’t "Why do you hike?" but "Why do you blog?"

As a writer you sure have to deserve your credits the hard way. As thruhikers do too.

When you hike and reach the end-terminus, your peeps at home congratulate you, they’re full of “wow you did it” and “it must have been amazing”. But after a week (well if you’re lucky maybe two or three) the excitement calms down and things go back to how they were before (that is for the people around you). So there you are, having hiked hundreds or even thousands of miles, but now standing in the middle of that old living room again, sitting at the table in the kitchen you’ve eaten so many breakfasts. And you can’t help asking yourself: “Has it all been a dream? Or why is it that I feel so lonely, so empty and so out of place?”
Being a writer ain’t much different. When you write something the people out there like, you get nice comments and they encourage you to keep on writing. Lots of people read along but don’t say anything, so you kinda have to make up in your head what they think of it. And then I always end up asking myself the same and highly uncomfortable questions: “Girl, why are you sharing your thoughts with the world? Are you just doing this to get attention? Do you seriously think you got something to share?” These are the questions that come to my mind in the calm after the storm, when encouraging words only ring from the distance.
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Loveletter to a thruhiker

I was just talking to a hikertrash friend when we started chatting about how beautiful thruhikers are. That’s when the idea came to my mind to write a loveletter to a thruhiker. No it’s not just dedicated to one particular thruhiker, it is written to all thruhikers, the ones that hiked in the past, the lucky bastards that are rocking the trails right now and the ones in the future. Now this might be a bit cheesy, but hell, I don’t give a fuck, you know that ;cP

Here’s to all of you thruhikers, men and women: MY LOVELETTER TO YOU:

Thruhiker,

How beautiful you are. Your wild eyes, your dust-covered body and your heart thirsty for freedom. Your feet leaving your tracks on the trails around this world. They’re scarred but strong. They take you where your heart wants to go. No one knows exactly where you’ve been and no one knows exactly where you’ll go. But you go baby, o you go! Sometimes you’re fast like a wolf, concentrated, head down to the trail, still fully aware. Sometimes you’re slow like a turtle, stopping every second step to drink the wild air, still never losing a race. 

Look at your hair, it’s all tangled up and sticky and dusty, but the sun makes it shine like gold. 
Look at your face, it’s weathered like a tree shaped by the wind. The lines and the wrinkles tell the story of the places you’ve been, of the people you’ve met and the battles you’ve won. 
Look at your hands, colored with dirt, they’re both empty and full, they receive and they give, they hold a whole world. 
Look at your mind, it’s wide open, it’s searching and finding at the same time. 
O and your heart, have you looked into it? It’s thirsty, growing bigger and stronger with each mile you go, beating like crazy, wild and untamed. 

How real you are. How the trail stripped you down to the core of your being. Dirty and smelly but honest and real. Thruhiker, meeting you, one gets what one sees, that’s for sure. The smell of sweat and a dirty hug, yet also shiny eyes so alive, expressing joy and wonder and revealing all your wild dreams, all the steps you took in life.

How strong you are. Getting up every morning, deciding it’s a perfect day to live your dream and by doing that, maybe disappointing others, not following the given paths in life, doing your own thing, getting away from it all (O we both know you’re not running away from it all, you’re diving right into it). You should know that even those who would want you to do things differently, still secretly admire you. You inspire your enemies and your friends. You inspire the people that cross your path. You are brave enough to live what many people dream of.

How wild you are. Human still, but getting closer to where we all come from. How the trail blurs the dividing line between you and the earth, between you and the trees, between you and the wind, between you and the wildlife. You’ve become wildlife yourself now, you’ve become the earth and the trees and the wind that tangles up your hair. 

How crazy you are. Absolutely mad. The kind of madness to fall in love with. Laughing and joking and turning the world upside down. How I love the way you do that. Making fun of life, not giving a fuck, and still loving it more deeply and fiercely most people could ever imagine..

O Thruhiker, how beautiful you are. Your wild eyes, your dust-covered body and your heart thirsty for freedom!

Cat 

PS: You are my hero!!!

 

168 Reasons to hike the John Muir Trail

Soooooooo: Why would you wanna hike the JMT? O dear, there are tons of people who could come up with tons of reasons why not to!

But NO NO NO… that ain’t the way we roll right? Always be confident and positive (that you oughta know since you read my last post…. Haven’t read it yet? Total shame!!!)! Hell there are hundreds of reasons to hike the John Muir Trail, 168 to be exact! One reason for each day between the moment you apply for your wilderness permit and the day you’re about to set your first foot on the trail!

So here we go: 168 REASONS TO HIKE THE JOHN MUIR TRAIL:
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About to hit the JMT?

Allrighty folks… Hiking season is open! Those lucky PCT bastards are hitting the trail, taking pics at the monument in Campo, working their way thru the desert…

Na a don’t worry, we JMT wussies still have a bit of time to prepare. Allright allright… of course we are no wussies, WE’RE ABOUT TO ROCK THE SIERRA. Well actually, not “we”… “YOU” are! I’m stuck in Europe, so “you” are gonna have to do it! Climb your way out of the valley, or worse (well that actually depends on how you see it), climb Whitney on day 1! O man! How jealous I am of all of you, whether you’re about to embark on a journey of thousands of miles or may it just be a few hundred through the magnificent Sierra! You damn lucky merican hikers, YOU’RE ALL GONNA HAVE A HIKE OF A LIFETIME!!!

As I am not qualified YET to give you any advice on hiking badass trails like the PCT or CDT, I’ll have to stick with the JMT. For now my ego is fine with that ;c) After all one must say: The John Muir Trail is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS AMAZING BREATHTAKING MOTHERFUCKING GREAT! Yet it really ain’t about the name or the trail or whatever. It’s about nature, about wilderness, about the delicate beauty of the tiniest plant, about the majesty of those granite walls, and about everything inbetween. It’s about the soft yellow light that hits your eye first thing in the morning, about the smell of cedar trees when you hike down from Sallie Keyes Lakes (or towards SKL if you’re a northbounder), it’s about the view that makes your body freeze when you see Center Peak and the mountains around, it’s about being a part of it all when you sit down in Mc’Clure Meadow, watch the sun set and you feel so grateful that you are right there on that one spot in the middle of all that beauty!!! O you know… it’s about soooo much more than just “a trail”!
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Oops I did it again!

Wuhuuu! I am proud to announce: I QUIT MY JOB!!! Again! Am I crazy? Yes! Does it feel good? Yes! What are you gonna do now? What I love! Things can’t change if you don’t start making changes, right?  Last monday I was on my way to work when all of a sudden a feeling came over me like “I really don’t wanna do this anymore”, it was like a heavy load pushing on my chest. I managed to stay on that job for 6 months, whoops… I’m just not made for that “normal life thing”! I feel trapped and caged, it restricts me and kills my creativity!
I remember the words that came to my mind when I was hiking last summer.  As long as I feel trapped in a normal job, I just can’t be me…

I AM TO BE WILD
Not to be tamed
Not to be caught
Not to be caged
I am like a fire
like hot burning flames
I am what should be
set out to be free
I’m not to be kept
in one place to stay
I’m not a hunter and 
I’m not a prey
I’m raw like a wolf, like a bear, like a shark
I’m like a cat with eyes in the dark
Don’t come too close
Don’t hold for too long
KEEPING ME WILD
IS KEEPING ME STRONG
I’m ready to bite
I’m ready to fight
I’m not to be tamed
I AM TO BE WILD

So what I’m gonna do is: Fly to Teneriffa on saturday, hike across the island and climb the Teide next week, come back and start having the guts to really live my life the way I want it. How I’m gonna make a living? Get more involved in our wilderness school, try to start giving courses in lightweight backpacking, let my creativity grow again (I have a tiny brand called “Helenmade” under which I make and sell hats, jewelry, felted stuff,… ), write songs,… 

 BASICALLY:  DO WHAT I LOVE & LOVE WHAT I DO!!!

The freedom of going solo?

When I hit the trail at the 23th of August 2013 I intended on solo thruhiking the JMT. I never had done anything like that before. I had turned 30, got divorced in the past year and I felt like if I needed something what I call “a battle for FREEDOM“.
I’ve done a fairly amount of travelling around the globe but I never did a solo thruhike. I decided I didn’t wanna wait no longer for anyone coming along, cuz somehow waiting for other people also feels like being caged. I told myself, if I’m brave enough to do a thruhike on my own, I will feel free. And I did feel freedom to a certain point, yet I also realised freedom is something you create in your mind.
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Finding answers…

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…
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