I was in Cleveland working with a client this week when I came across this article in one of my email feeds. “My PCT Dreams and Why I’m No Longer Hiking,” Jenna Duesterhoeft. It’s about a young woman who, with her boyfriend, was planning on doing the PCT together. Only, heart disease had other plans for her. I really liked her story in the capacity of how resilient she was while being presented with two major setbacks over the course of a couple of years.
Same boat here different circumstances. Yet, I understand and appreciate her words so very much. While I enjoy the dichotomy of my life. Living in urban settings now for most of my life. Smack downtown both in Columbus Ohio and Dallas Texas. But enjoying my time outdoors hiking and camping as a way to combat anxiety related to having had a heart attack in 2015.
But, as seen with Jenna’s words, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how everything, and I mean everything, can change in just a matter of minutes. I think that’s the other part of what I’ve been doing though. While getting outdoors for 5, 20, 100-mile hikes in the backwoods is a way to combat anxiety in as much as it forces me to live in the moment, it’s more than that. Jenna sums it up beautifully in her note to PCT hikers.
“Savor every moment out on the trail. Be thankful that you are out there. Please. You are so lucky.”
I feel grateful for where I have been so far. The memories of mountain tops, glacial streams, sunsets atop cliffs in Kentucky with some new friends over dinner, treks through deep woods as a stinking spider web covered bearded mess are things I cherish. And yet, I concede, I have been lucky to enjoy these experiences. My own first through hike is loosely scheduled for 2020. Nothing on the scale of the AT, PCT or JMT but something to the tune of 300 miles, which, for me, is huge. But you can count on every small group hike or multi-day backwoods trek in between now and then I will keep Jenna’s words fresh in my heart.
While the next hike is not guaranteed. With a nod to Jenna, as she is dead on right, I plan to make the most of my time outdoors this year and toast to her, and everybody else’s, health and happiness.