Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PCT prep: Presentation and Goodbyes

Last weekend, Renee (Pathfinder) and I did a presentation about getting started with backpacking, and planning for the PCT hike for Trail Dames.  Our goal was to inspire other women to take up hiking or backpacking, and provide advice and tips.  We told our stories about learning to backpack, how our backpacking evolved, and ultimately how we ended up setting out on our thru hikes.  There was some (minimal) talk of backpacking food and gear, but mainly we wanted to share the lessons we’ve learned- how once you tell everyone that you are going to do a thru hike that things will fall into place, that you really do need to ‘hike your own hike’ and how the trail community helps you out in so many ways.
Renee and I giving a talk for the Georgia Trail Dames.
At the presentation, there were women in the audience that I’ve been friends with since I first started with Trail Dames back in 2009, and there were women that I’d just met the week before for the Beginner Backpacking trip, and some women for whom this was their first TD event.

Preparing for the talk, I got to reflect about my last five years here in Georgia.  How lonely I felt moving to Georgia, not knowing anyone here, and feeling like I was in a foreign land.  The uncertainty I felt going on my first backpacking trip in 2009.  The warmth and friendships I found through hiking and sharing meals in the evening in camp.  The joy after my first solo backpacking trip in 2010.  The confidence I summoned leading my first hikes.  How excited I was when I hiked my first 20 mile day in 2011.  I could go on, but suffice to say that I feel like I am not the same person that I was back when I started this process.  And I am grateful for the women who have been part of this journey.

Hearing all the support for our PCT hike makes me feel like this journey is so much bigger than just me.  That I’m going out there to the PCT not only as an individual, but also as someone who got her start backpacking here in this community, and who grew so much through involvement and friendships that formed from the Dames.
Kellye, Salt, Sassafras, Still Waters, me and Melissa in 2011.
Earlier in the day, I also had a goodbye lunch with the women with my old backpacking crew that I met through Trail Dames- including Melissa who was the hike leader on my very first TD hike and who was so inspiring to me.  Kellye was also there- she has been one of my closest friends- got me started hammock hanging, was the co-leader for countless TD trips and events with me, and is now continuing to help me out by getting my mail while I’m on the PCT.  Still Waters was there too- I met her on my first TD backpacking trip, she's been a huge part of my life, and she is sending me my resupply boxes.  Plus Salt, who I've also shared many backpacking adventures.  It was also wonderful seeing you all, plus the other TD hike leaders and Board members at the presentation.  Women I’ve shared wonderful times with including Pam, Jules, Dennice, Amy, Leah, and Brenda (who is storing my car while I’m on the PCT- thank you, Brenda).  Huge thanks to you all for the sweet send-off!

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