T-2 Days… What the Hell Was I Thinking?

Saturday August 15, 2015

I can’t believe it’s finally time. After seven months of planning, preparing, reading, grilling my more experienced backpacking friends or information, taking REI wilderness survival and compass reading classes,  and gathering all the advice and tips from Facebook groups that I can fit into my brain, tomorrow I begin my adventure. The plan is to drive to Yosemite Valley where I’ll park my car at the Curry Village trail-head parking lot  and find my way (by thumb or bus) to the Dow Villa Motel in  Lone Pine.  From there I’ll hitchhike to the Horseshoe meadow trail-head on Monday morning and hike 4 miles and 1200 feet over Cottonwood pass to Chicken Spring Lake to begin my 30 day John Muir Trail journey. It’s real. It’s happening. Holy shit… What was I thinking?

Resupply bucket prep
Resupply bucket prep

I have a sinking fluttery feeling in my gut. I’m actually nervous! Me –with my self-proclaimed “unhealthy absence of fear”!!!  Not so much I guess,  I’m scared shitless right now. Really, I’m about to lose my shit.

I feel alone and nervous. How the hell am I going to handle 30 days alone in the wilderness if I leave feeling alone? All the work I’ve done over the last 6 years; all those lonely days and nights learning that it’s better to be alone than to be with people who drain me or drag me down, or that it’s better to sit in the nothingness and the pain than to crawl back in the bottle or the bag or the package of cookies … it has all led me here. But seriously. Wtf was I thinking?

Am I really ready to spend 30 days alone in the wilderness? – Without Capone (my 10 year old Rottweiler/Lab mix and sometimes backpacking partner)??? Oh my god, I’m gonna have a heart attack. Seriously, I can’t breathe…

I have a strange feeling cleaning my house, updating my advance health directive, and making sure my final wishes are known to my emergency contact. Why do I feel like I’m not coming back? This sinking feeling…. Like my stomach is about to fall out through my soon-to-be aching swollen feet. What have I gotten myself into?

(Talking to myself): Ok.. Take a breath.. Breathe.. in and out.. sloooowly.. Breathe… You know you aren’t going to backout.  Quitting is not an option so just breathe.

This is the same feeling I had before leaving the house to skydive. Preparing for the “what-if” is normal – and responsible, right??? This is not a walk in the park – this is Two. Hundred. Fifty. Miles.  ALONE!

To myself: Do you get it now? This is a big fucking deal. If I wasn’t scared I’d be crazy. It’s OK. It’s going to be OK. Just keep moving forward.. And remember to breathe…

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9 comments on “T-2 Days… What the Hell Was I Thinking?”

  1. Carolyn, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your memoirs. I certainly can relate as I hiked SOBO alone During that time frame. From your dates, we summitted Mount Whitney the same day, however, I was on top for sunrise. Said, I would never do that again but after reading your story, I am gearing up for anortger JMT hike this August. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi! I am a very novice hiker and my hiking buddy can’t do the jmt anymore due to starting a new job so I’m going alone… I’m very nervous. You inspire me! What advice can you give me? I would love to chat with you if you wouldn’t mind. Please e-mail me!

  3. Hello,

    I am taking the same route as you – almost following your itinerary exactly. Do you happen to have any PDF files of your maps? Or anything else that will become useful for my adventure?

    Thanks again.

  4. Caption on your cover/previous page is not correct. it’s the view from Garnet Lake, not Thousand Island Lake.

  5. Leaving my hiking canine companion is my biggest internal battle in hiking the JMT this year. Do I hike another dog friendly section or the dream of a lifetime? Glad to know that I am not the only one that has/had those internal conversations.

    1. Thank you for this. Yes, it was so hard leaving him for 30 days. But he had a great time and I probably worried for nothing. If you keep reading you’ll see that it really wore me down at times. I wish I could have felt more at peace with leaving him, I think it would have made my trip a little easier. Good luck on your hike. Your canine companion will be happy and healthy and thrilled to see you upon your return!

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