For the past two days, I’ve hiked completely alone for the first time on my Pacific Crest Trail thruhike. Sure, there are lots of other hikers around—but I know none of them. This is because I just got off the trail for several days for a career training in relationship coaching. Now Sensei, my hiking partner for the whole first month, is too far ahead for me to ever catch up with him. It feels like a disorienting dream. At any moment, I’m going to wake up to find the core member of my “trail family” with me again, right?!
It took me months to decide that interrupting the PCT for a career training at the Somatica Institute in the SF Bay Area was a wise decision. I am planning on leaving the trail not once but THREE separate times, each for a week at a time, in pursuit of a certification to become a somatic relationship coach. When weighing the pros and cons of committing to both journeys this year, I did consider that I would meet three different groups of people instead of enjoying continuous relationships over the course of my hike. But I decided that this didn’t really matter because, on the Appalachian Trail, I hardly connected with anyone. I shaved my head beforehand, partially to deter male advances, and wanted nothing but to hike alone day after day. That was what I needed to feel reconnected to myself then. “It will probably be the same on the Pacific Crest Trail,” I thought last fall. “Having a career I’m excited about when I finish the PCT is more important than relationship continuity on the trail.”
I was wrong about not wanting to form real connections on the trail this time. The loss of my hiking buddy was hammered home for me at the profoundly moving training I just attended, where we discussed interpersonal attachment in depth.
This past week, I realized something about myself. Despite loving people, I’ve spent the past couple of years—starting with my solo journey on the AT—pretending that I don’t NEED them. I have always been passionate about relationships and human connection, but I’ve spent two years telling myself that in order to be a strong and independent woman, I shouldn’t let myself totally rely on anyone—especially not a man.
Well, I realize now that that’s bullshit. I am human, and we are social animals. I am stronger and freer with the support of others than I could ever be on my own. Yes, I’m grateful that after all the alone time I experienced on the Appalachian Trail, I am comfortable taking care of and being alone with myself. But I’m fooling myself (and denying myself beautiful depth of connection) if I think that I can do this life thing alone.
I hope that, in the next few days, I’ll form new bonds with other PCT hikers with whom I will hike into the Sierra. I’m sad even before meeting them that I will need to leave them in a month for my second career training module. But it feels so liberating to finally give myself permission to need others.
I’m over 500 miles into my PCT 2018 Hike for Girls! Please consider donating to my fundraiser and be a part of changing many young women’s lives.