the birthday gift
It’s my birthday on Friday!
Guess what I’m doing to celebrate?
Going on a 3-day solo backpacking trip!
Does that sound crazy? I don’t know anymore. During the day, when I think about my trip, I’m all: Wild plants! Connecting with the blessings of nature! Waking up to bird song! Slowing way down! The mental clarity that comes from being alone in the woods! Feeling the power of my own two legs! At night when the doubts come knocking on my cranial door, I have a little mantra I repeat about “peaceful nocturnal animals living their own lives.”
A friend helped me distill my amorphous anxieties into “worst case scenarios,” to check in and see if any were prohibitive enough to cancel the trip. Loneliness? Boredom? Body pain? I can handle those. A bear wandering through my camp at night, causing me to sit up in my sleeping bag, turn my headlamp on and say, decisively, “Go away bear!” Well…yeah, I’m OK with that too. (As long as the bear listens; the wild bears around here are very well behaved. Key word: wild).
I used to backpack alone a lot. You know, say-it-with-me: Before Kids. And you know how people seek travel as a means toward inspiration, personal challenge, exploration and growth? For me, all that happened on these solo backpacking trips in my 20’s. Plus, there was the gift of getting up close and personal with the plants of the San Juan mountains and seeing so much beautiful country, the kind that inflates your heart with happiness and gratitude for its very existence.
I’m leaving tomorrow under the auspices that you can teach an old dog old tricks. I’ve got my rain poncho which doubles as shelter, hella calories, two books, an envelope of notes from my BFFs to read on my birthday, one pot, one bowl, one spoon, a star chart from my astronomy-enthusiast dad, a bag of pea sprouts to ward off the risks of scurvy from the 20,000 calories of bacon and energy bars, and love in my heart. So much love.
Thanks for being here you guys.
See you all on the flip side.