Seven years ago today, I set off hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. As this day has been drawing near, I’ve been thinking about the hikers whose 2020 dream of hiking the PCT has been postponed. Those who put their lives on hold, quit their jobs, gave up their apartments, sold their houses, and freed up six months of their life to make space for the trail, only to be told they have to stay at home for an undetermined period of time while parts of the trail remain closed.
Of course, compared to what’s happening around the world right now, missing out on hiking a trail may not be classified as a ‘big deal’. But comparisons aside, hiking the PCT is a lifelong dream that requires an incredible amount of planning and sacrifice to carve out six months of your life to walk those miles. My heart goes out to the ‘should have been’ class of 2020. I hope their dreams will be fulfilled in the coming years.
I’m hesitant to comment about the current state of the world. I’m tired of hearing the same rhetoric repeated. All I can say is how grateful I am to live in Canada, to still have a job, and to live in a small town where I can get outside and not bump into hoards of people.
What I’ve found fascinating is the way my emotions have been shifting over the course of the past few weeks. Like many others, it’s been a rollercoaster journey of ups and downs, with sudden turns and general jerkiness around every uncertain corner.
I’ve caught myself looking too far ahead on many occasions, and the emotional turmoil connected with this reminds me of my months on the trail. At the very beginning of the PCT, it was impossible to imagine how I could hike 2,650 miles over six months. Not only were my feet and shoulders crying out by day two, but the thought of repeating the same daily routine day after day, even after a week, seemed unbearable.
The scenario now is quite different, of course. But imagining the current state of the world, and our limited routines stretching on for months at a time is daunting. For me, being trapped indoors for months is as tough as living outside in the elements. But the way I’m approaching this seemingly endless timeframe is similar to the trail. I’m taking it one day, one week, and one month at a time. At least I’m trying to. Looking ahead is doing me no favours.
I had a really good feeling going into 2020. When I look back over the last fourteen years of my life, there has been a distinct pattern to my seven-year cycles. 2005 was a low year, one of my worst for a variety of reasons. But in 2006, I bounced back, landing my first major event job in Australia and then moving to the Middle East for the Asian Games. Six years later, my entire life seemed to unravel again in 2012. But in 2013, I hiked the PCT, which was, and still is, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
Six years after the trail, I hit a low again in 2019. But I managed to climb out of that hole over the course of the last twelve months, and at the start of this year, I found myself in one of the most stable and satisfying states of life I’ve ever been in.
I’m still hopeful 2020 will contain some of the same safe gifts that 2006 and 2013 delivered. I have no idea how life will look once we move through this devastating chapter, but there’s always a silver lining. After a year with limited hikers, the PCT will be more beautiful than ever, and if 2020 is anything like 2006 and 2013, there’s sure to be some magic in store.
Praying you and your families are safe and well.