When I decided to go solo backpacking I wasn’t apprehensive, I’ve been on so many solo hiking & camping trips I knew I would be fine. I have the right gear, I knew where I was headed, I felt prepared. What I wasn’t expecting was to be tested in the solitude. Everywhere else I’ve gone I have been surrounded by other people, in campsites, on trails, in passing – on this adventure I didn’t anticipate the sheer and total quiet that crept up on me and made me go deeper with myself out of total necessity.
I’ve truly never felt such solitude. At times the silence was deafening, it seemed to press down on me. The sound of my breath, maybe the wind in the pines, maybe the crackle of my campfire in the evening…the occasional crunch of something moving about in the woods. Not another soul in sight for miles. Just a girl and her backpack at 8000 feet.
Part of that silence was magic. I could think clearly, I could take my time, I could hear the whispers of my soul. As conflicted as I had been about everything else in my life and where the universe has been pulling me, I kept arriving at the same conclusion. This was absolutely necessary. For some time now I had been approaching this cliff and I knew I was meant to leap. And at the same time part of the silence was terrifying. Taking the leap seemed paralyzing. It consumed me and told me stories of loneliness, questioning my motives and making me wonder if I had what it takes.
I found in the woods, out among the stars and alpine lakes and quiet wrestlings of my soul that I have all the bravery and strength that is required and more. When I was afraid, of both things real and imagined, I recognized the invitation to expand. When I felt peace, I felt it deep down in my heart & soul.
Amid the freezing cold water, the warm granite rocks, the blistered feet and dirty socks, the breathtaking views, shooting stars and natural hot springs, amid trails and massive sequoias I found that thing I had been chasing and seeking and wanting so badly was already in my heart. She was waiting in my soul for me to come home. For me to remember. For me to be brave. For me to get quiet. For me to wander. I realize the discomfort and the aloneness and the quiet was all apart of her gift. Touching the magic of what it means to be truly alive.