On July 30th, two short months from now, I’ll be celebrating my 60th birthday with a party at my brother’s house in Snoqualmie Pass and then heading out for a month long trek on the Pacific Crest Trail from Snoqualmie Pass almost to the Canadian border. (I will head west 20 miles shy of the border and head over some mountain passes to end at Ross Lake). 265 miles altogether, 26 days of hiking with two full days of rest at two different resupply points, Stevens Pass area and Stehekin. This has been on my list of possibilities to do since last August when the idea took form in my thoughts and heart. I have now crossed over the threshold to commitment to doing so.
I just returned from the Mazama area where I spent the last four days hiking a number of days and miles in a row carrying some weight to try my new pack out and test my older body to see how it might hold up. All systems feel like a go!! My ankle held up, my back feels good and I had a delightful time reconnecting with the mountains, an old love of mine. Much more training and preparation is needed but the biggest hurdles feel like they are past.
I feel reconnected also to my younger self who knew her way around with a backpack and delighted in time walking in nature with all I needed on my back. As I drove through Rainy Pass in the North Cascades and saw the signs for the PCT amidst these amazing mountains I did think “Holy Crap what am I getting myself into?”. What incredible beauty to walk slowly through. I seem to a mange hiking about a 35-40 minute mile average with weight on my back and ups and downs (I’m slow but I’ve learned to live with that) and here I was driving about a mile a minute. What a difference it will be to SLOW down and become aware of all that surrounds me. After the amazing wild flowers and greenness this weekend I look forward excitedly to this pilgrimage to and through the sacred mountains. My intention is to have this time out from daily life to deeply feel into what Spirit calls me to in this (hopefully!) remaining third of my life. A time of eldership and giving back to the human and more than human community. What is mine to do and how will I move forward into it?
One of the books that I am reading about pilgrimage (The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices For The Journey Within by Christine Valters Paintner) states “Pilgrimage calls us to be attentive to the divine at work in our lives through deep listening, patience, opening ourselves to the gifts that arise in the midst of discomfort, and going out to our own inner wild edges to explore new frontiers.” That puts into words for me much of what is motivating me to do this, especially the part about going out to my own wild edges to explore new frontiers. What better place to do that than out in the wilds of the Cascades?
So I have committed and now I step into whatever it will take to be ready in two months.