Expectations.... They can ruin a hike when things don't quite turn out like you think. I was so excited to start this hike. And right from the start I had trail angels offering me help, how awesome is that! The day I started the trail was beautiful, more beautiful than I could have imagined. Blowing all of my expectations away. And the ups! The ups weren't that bad! Easier than I thought really! Again making my expectations seem irrelevant. Then the weather changed and I started into a snowy section. Still everything was so stunningly gorgeous that it was hard for a little bit of snow or rain or hail to change my mind. I was loving It! And the trail was easier than I had imagined.
I made it back to Harts Pass where the ranger was keeping my food cashe safe. And then I made it to my next resupply and was so proud of myself for managing to get in and out of a town on the same day. All the while the trail was blowing my mind with how amazing it was. Sure there were snow sections but I knew that going in. Yes, it was hard but did I ever expect it would be easy?
Then the snow sections turned into miles and miles of snow in the most treacherous areas. There was a day where I had planned to get to a certain campsite but when I arrived it was covered in feet of snow and so I kept walking. The next campsite was even worse and I knew I couldn't handle a night hike on a snowy mountain. I searched for the safest place to set up camp and woke up to rain on slushy snow making that next day even harder than the last. I got lost that day...a few times. I fell that day... a few times. I actually slid down part of a mountainside and was saved by trees. None of these things were expected. None of these things were welcome. I knew I needed to keep moving to keep warm but I also knew I needed to eat something. I sat completely soaked and dirty with my tarp wrapped around me forcing tasteless food down my throat while I tried to regroup. What did I expect? And does it matter? I am here. Right now. Dealing with these conditions. I wanted to be out here doing this so I had better think like I am doing this. I know whati need to be doing.
Now that I have had some.food and given myself a little pep talk it's time to keep moving. Get back on trail and get off this mountain. I need to get as low as possible, beyond the snow. Just for a night, I tell myself. The walk down is cold but the longer I walk the warmer I start to feel until I realize that I'm not cold anymore.
At the bottom, I still have energy and it's still raining so there is no use in stopping so soon. I make promises to myself that I will stop going up and set up camp before the next snowy section. I end up walking for miles in a gorgeous forest that had giant redwoods in it. It soothes me and I find myself happy to be here again. I set up in such a good sheltered spot that several hikers walked right by not noticing I was even there.
The next day I walk up into the miles of snow again but it is sunny. The hikers I meet today all tell me of their misadventures from yesterday. I feel better. I was not alone yesterday. I am never really alone. We get lost again in the snow, this time together and in the sun and it is funny. We laugh at our mistakes and each pull out our phones to search for the real trail. We laugh at the problems from yesterday, each of us reliving yesterday's awful experiences yet today for some reason they seem funny.
I don't know what this trail is going to throw at me. The expectations I have or even the problems I expect to face might never happen. I will take what I am given and try to adapt.
So far just in this first two hundred miles the trail has surpassed all expectation of beauty and ruggedness. So far I have met more southbound hikers than I imagined and I realize that I don't have to hike alone if I don't want too. There are many out here doing the same thing and going through the same struggles. What will come next? Who knows? This time I am trying to get rid of all expectations and take what comes.