In 66 minutes, my husband, my kids, and I, will be well on our way to the Barlow Pass Trailhead on Mt. Hood.
Traveling thru the forest, giant behemoth trees on either side, truck runoffs purposely placed, you forget that you are traveling on a dormant volcano.
As he navigates the road, I am sitting in the passenger seat of our oversized RAM truck. My husky Helios is looking out the back window. He knows what we are doing. I have talked to him enough times.
My kids are bickering in the back seat. I doubt they notice the giant mountain we driving straight in to. So I use this time to practice my deep breathing.
Nerves start to kick in. The windy roads are getting to me. Butterflies are in my throat. My appendages feel numb. So I turn on the seat cooler that we have deftly named The Butt Bidet. Blood starts to rush back to my fingers and toes.
I remind myself that I have been practicng and preparing myself for this very moment for the past 6 months. I wrote my packing list 3 different times, and I repacked my pack about 6 times.
I know every single item in my bag. I know how each item works. And I know what to do if a tool fails.
My body has been working hard for this. My feet have worn out a couple pair of shoes. My mind has grown accustomed to pushing itself past its comfort zone.
In an hour, I will be opening my door. My dog will be eagerly hopping out of the truck. And my super husband will grab my pack that had inevitably launched itself to the front of the cab when that driver failed to look in his blind spot as he merged.
I watch as he hops up to grab it. I can hear my heart beat a little faster.
I have the kids hold on to the dog leash so I can put my pack on. They knew today was coming.
I have been prepping them since the beginning. They both have anxiety. We have hypothesized every real – and imaginary – scenario that could possibly happen. I have answered every question and made them a part of the planning process.
They will be ok.
I close my eyes.
I hear the cars in the distance.
I take a deep breath.
I adjust my pack. I want to make sure everything is fitting properly before I take that first step.
I call the kids over. B is being pulled by Helios. She has 2 hands on the leash and is leaning back as far as possible. She is really using that core to make sure she keeps ahold of the leash and doesnt fall to the ground!
My left hand takes hold of B’s and my right hand holds on to E’s. My husband locks up his truck as we start to walk to the TH.
My heart is now about to be sucked out of my chest. Not sure if it’s the nerves, fear, excitement, or a mix of all 3.
I hug the girls tight. Give them each extra long hugs loves and kisses. My husband and I embrace and I almost want to whisper in his ear “let’s just go home.”
I feel my right eye start to pool with tears. I rub them away with my pointer finger knuckle. I chuckle a little bit.
I cannot let the girls think I am weak. I remind them that I, no, we, have prepare for this moment.
B hands me Helios. There is someone else in the parking lot about to head dow the trail, so I ask them to take a family picture.
I hand them my phone.
I grab my phone. I give a few more hugs and loves and kisses and tell them to make sure daddy stays out of trouble.
I remind them to pick me up on the Washington side of the cascade locks Bridge on Monday at 3PM.
I turn around. I can feel them watching me. If I dont start walking now, I may just hop back in the truck.
I take that first step. And off I go. First step of 55 miles.
I hear the truck start. Trees are between us and them. I pause on the trail. I close my eyes once more. Take another deep breath. And then I tell myself, that I am strong and I can do this.
At least that is what is supposed to be transpiring in 66 minutes.
When you make plans, they are bound to change. At least that has been my story this year.
I am currently experiencing a variety of emotions.
After the backpacking trip with my scouts in July, I decided that it would be in my best interest to actually delay my 55 mile solo* until the snow melted next year.
At least that is what I said outloud. And I mostly convinced myself. But I didnt cancel my PTO. In fact, I still believed there was a possibility I might still go.
At least that was until my PTO (that actually was never approved anyways) was denied due to a PTO freeze.
That day I got that denial email, broke my heart. I was so livid. And angry. I had alot going on that was boiling underneath, but that email sent boiling foam zooming over the nonstick rim, burning everything within a 10 foot radius.
It took me yet another heartbreak of not being able to go on my planned 16 mile solo* to put the pieces together.
I could still go on a 16 mile solo* this partitular weekend.
Sure, it isnt my 55miler. But it is still exciting and noteworthy and a milestone nonetheless.
Last week I finalized my route. I half packed my backpack. And started making mental notes of what remained on the to do list.
This week, I was going to finalize my itinerary to send to my homebase crew, buy a few more snacks and replace 1 of my backpacking meals. I just bought a new pot grabber and am finally the proud owner of a balaclava.
I prepped the kids and the family. I’d wake up at 430am Saturday, before anyone else awoke. I’d grab Helios. The car would have been packed friday night. And we would hit the road, windows slightly down, music just loud enough.
I am ready.
Or I was.
Until life told me I needed to slow down.
As I sprained my ankle this past Sunday stepping off our front porch, on the way to our first scout meeting of the year.
4 days later, I can finally put pressure on it. But pushing off my heel, and landing on my toes….not a possible movement right now without excruciating pain.
Not to mention that my ankle is swollen to a point it wont fit in my sneaker….
This will probably be one of the last semi-good weather weekends in Oregon.
I am super bummed.
I havent cried yet.
I will let myself if tears start to swell.
But I am going to harness that energy and remain positive.
I am going to conqur that 16miler.
I am going to slay that 55miler.
Just not today. And not this weekend.
The universe has given me a sign. And now it is time to take a step back and listen.
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