Everybody need goals. Though most of these goals, if we are honest, are not all that important. In the grand scheme of things, does cleaning out my closet really matter? No. But if we can’t find some meaning in every day existence, we can get swallowed up. Goals keep us moving forward. I do have my “organize the cupboard” checklist, but bigger goals are a little more exciting. I’ve already accomplished one major goal – 500 miles on the Appalachian Trail. (And then write a book…which you can find and buy on Amazon – link on homepage. Making a couple bucks is always a goal, right? ;)) But now what?
Except, this “goal” ideal creates a bit of a problem. I don’t want living (or hiking) to be about “accomplishing.” Ego fulfillment is not living in the fullest, in my humble opinion. What a dilemma.
How do I reconcile these conflicting ideas? I surrender them to the universe. (Or what I call “God”…or because I believe that this mystery is entirely loving, I will boldly even name it “Father” at times.) It’s true that my goals are not that important, but they help me live…therefore, they have importance. I embrace them with gratitude; but I don’t hold them too tightly. They don’t give me value. Maybe I give THEM value–just by experiencing them? I don’t know. But I know one thing – I enjoy goals. So I’m making more.
Becoming a “thru hiker” would be the pinnacle of my hiking dreams, though it’s a commitment that doesn’t fit into my life. Even finishing the entirety of a long distance trail (bit by bit) feels more than my realistic self can envision. (Completing the PCT would be so amazing…but reading thru hiker accounts of what this actually entails has brought a harsh reality check to what this requires in real life.)
So instead of finishing any one trail, I’ve decided experiencing several is better. Why not finish 500 miles of more than just the Appalachian Trail?
I’m just 30-ish miles shy of finishing all of Washington’s PCT, which is just over 500 miles. So once that is done, that makes 500 miles completed on two major thru hikes. The Continental Divide is the other major thru hike in America (the other “crown” in the illusive triple) and it shares it’s beginning (or ending) with the lesser known Pacific Northwest Trail. (Which goes East/West from Glacier Montana to Washington’s coast.)
I’ve discovered I’ve already done almost 100 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) without realizing it. Do 300 more (much of it within a few hours of my house) then do my last 100 to the terminus in Glacier National Park–then hop on the Continental Divide (also in Glacier) and start in on those 500 miles. If I can get in 500 miles on all four of those major hikes, then I can make a nice clean “500 Miles on 5 of America’s Thru Hikes” by visiting my brother in Arizona and working on their “Arizona Trail.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? If nothing else, it will keep me moving…and keep Guthook’s in business. (A must have trail app I was too cheap to pay for on the AT…until I finally caved, and now I can’t give them enough of my money ;))
But I have to add here that after I wrote all of the above, I willy nilly threw a “hail Mary” into the universe and applied for a sponsorship to thru hike the Arizona Trail. If by some miracle I get it, then my only goal will be to finish the Arizona Trail and not disappoint my sponsors. I’ll have until October to figure things out, since that is when I would need to start as a south-bounder. My “let the Spirit lead” attitude is helping me not to feel either anxious or excited – the ball will get caught or it won’t. It will be fine either way. But a touchdown sure would be fun.