It’s time. I’m here. I can hardly explain how excited I am. My friend Stephen and I got off the bus in Lordsburg, NM, which is the launching pad for the start of the hike, and I haven’t stopped grinning since. And, wouldn’t you know it, an old hiker buddy, Cookie Monster was on the register. I went to his room for “hiker happy hour” and we told stories of the time we were once stupid enough to hike 30+ miles in the San Jacinto Mountains on the PCT without any warm gear on a cold, cold day. It’s been a great evening and I feel ready. So ready!
It’s a 6:15 shuttle to the desert tomorrow. In previous hikes I’ve taken this moment to spell out some expectations, just to laugh at later. I don’t feel like I can do that right now. I just read a great quote in John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” on my commute here. “Life could not change the sun, or water the desert, so it changed itself.”
I remember the jitters of the last couple of hikes. The teary goodbyes. The weight. Though it was all cancelled out by joy and connection. This time though, it’s just love. It feels like a return to the life I love. I told the circle of hikers today at happy hour that I was feeling so glad to be around other thru-hikers. To finally not be the weirdo, “You’re doing what?!” Cookie and the others raised their beers for a toast and said, “Welcome home.”