Boundary

The last few days happened the way they should. Love walked with me, in the form of Craig, and in the form of everyone. In the form of Glacier being in me, while I’m finally within those boundaries. Though, I always was.

It snowed on the first day of our trip out, and after enough walking in the elements it got to that, “hmmmmm, I hope we’re alright” place. Craig was a trooper, high-spirited and tolerant. I thought it was appropriate that he got to see what this trail holds. Which is an edge. A place where you wonder. A place where it’s up to you to make decisions and find a balance of not underestimating them, but not losing your faith in yourself. A place where I never dreamed I’d spend so much time alone, and now I wonder when I get to go back.

Craig being a champ in the snow at 50 Mountain

Craig at 50 Mountain

After a shivery evening walk, we pitched our tent and made dinner. It was warm in the cold. Warm because of him, warm because of how I’ve learned to survive, warm because it always is. I don’t mean to seem over-charmed, but I can’t help it. I look around at all of us when we’re shivering and I think about how lucky we are to feel these things.

The next day was dryer, and it took us no time to make it to Goat Haunt. We had lunch by the shore and I tried to suppress the fear. Tried to understand why my body was hesitating to move past that point. The last 4 miles of Glacier where the biggest thing on my mind. I had hiked every bit of trail in the park, barring the last 4 of the CDT. A perfectly ridiculous thing to do. Me, in a nut shell. Then combining that with it being the end of the trail this summer, which felt more like the end of 3 trails, which felt more like the focus of my life for the last 4 years. It’s too much. Too big of a moment. I didn’t know how to handle it. I sort of still don’t.

Craig was there. Grateful to share it all and chomping at the bit to get there with me, for me. We stashed our stuff at Goat Haunt and ran for it! Which was perfect. Don’t think about it, just do it! There was the boundary trail junction first. Which meant my last step on new-to-me Glacier trail. I stopped to acknowledge it, thought about 14-year-old me, gazing at Bowman Lake and realizing that something was changed forever. I thought about 27-year-old me, sitting on the log last summer wondering what I would feel if I should be so lucky as to walk here from Mexico on some September day in 2015. I thought about the .9 miles to go. Wonder if two things that big should ever be that close together, and a third big thing hugging me close to his chest. I’m surprised I didn’t burst into flames.

We ran on. Had a moment with a raging stream, and soon enough, there it was! The border-line. That ominous clearing in the trees. My stomach turned and shoulders tightened and I reacted as though I had seen a ghost. We ran on, anyway. Just around the bend, I saw the terminus. I sprinted for it.

Then I just stood there. Looked around and took it in. It was hard to pick out anything. I mean, here you are, here it is. How is any reaction going to do it justice. We hung out there for a while. We sat next to each other with our backs against the spire, holding hands and looking south. I looked with all of me. Heard myself telling those epic peaks that I did it, but I still don’t understand. They said, “Yes.”  That’s what adventure has taught me.

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The illusion of trying to understand things has always been my downfall.  “You can’t lose what was never yours. You can’t win, cause it’s not a game. You don’t get to go around closing doors, because my darling, we’re the same.”

So I had a good cry, on Craig’s shoulder, and thought of it as all of ours. Because it is.

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And…..that’s the end, but I don’t suppose I believe in endings anymore.

Thank you. For the love, always.

6 thoughts on “Boundary

  1. Shayla;
    What a treat is has been to read your posts. I’ve enjoyed following you on this adventure and on the AT. Congratulations on the successful completion of the trail and, well, just on being you. Sounds like you’re having a great time out there. Many more happy trails to you, Kiddo.

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  2. Thank you for writing, Shayla! You made me cry…
    Can you send us the links to your previous blogs? I have a friend readying for the PCT next summer and she could use your inspiration and wisdom that you express so well in words…

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  3. Shayla,
    Met you at the restaurant where you work in Whitefish on around September 10th. We were a group of about 6, I think. My wife and I are from Gig Harbor, WA; and were in Whitefish for my niece’s 50th BD party. You told us that the PCT was the easiest of the three trails! We were impressed beyond words that you had hiked all three, and were standing at our table as our waitress barely days since you finished! You gave me your website, which I finally got around to logging into. Read quite a few entries and am impressed by your humility and your indomitable spirit. Way to go, by the way on completing the CDT. Anyway, didn’t want you to think I blew off your kindness in providing the website. I’m sure over the next few days/weeks I will get to vicariously enjoy your amazing experience. What the heck was the name of that restaurant? Blessings to you, Shayla Paradeis! You are an amazing person!
    Paul and Becky Hildebrand

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