I woke up this morning moaning.
The first thing that came into my mind was, “oh my neck, oh my back. Oh my neck and my back”.
It’s nothing more than a mass of knots and pain. Caused from carrying EK on my back yesterday on a hike in the woods, you know in one of those backpacks that holds kids.
This one to be exact.
You see, I read a book called Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and it’s kind of sent me into a frenzy. I can’t explain it. The book is a memoir about a lady who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself. If you’re not familiar with the PCT, like I was, it is a stretch that runs from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington. It took her three months, carrying everything she needed to survive on her back, living, eating, sleeping, and pooping in the wilderness. All alone. A switch went off in my brain. A desire to do the same.
Then a flash of reality went off in my brain reminding me I am 1) married 2) a mother 3) nearly forty 4) smarter than that.
So me and my brain, we compromised. I may not be able to hike the PCT, but I can go hike in the woods around me, my own personal PCT known as Perk Canyon Trail. So me and EK decided to do just that.
I strapped her on my back and we headed up.
About 14 steps up a very easy trail, I questioned my decision. It wasn’t easy.
It proved to actually be pretty hard. And I was reminded of a poster that hung in the Dyslexic teacher’s classroom at my former school. In big bold letters it read, WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.
I can do hard things, I kept telling myself.
In the book, Strayed keeps mentioning the weight of her pack was heavier than most backpackers. She never said the weight, but said it was at least half of what she weighed. I’m figuring an average 26 year old lady at about 120-130 pounds, so she’s probably carrying at least 60 pounds. Me, on the other hand, I’m carrying probably 25–30. And it ain’t easy for me.
A little ways up the trail, the air became a little nippy, so I stopped at a log to remove EK and put her jacket on her. It was a welcome relief. She then wanted to walk a little ways, and I was glad to have to only carry the pack without the added 22 pounds.
It is a real joy watching her exploring the woods, considering how she’s gonna cross this bride.
With mama’s helping hand of course.
Even getting off of logs proved to be a challenge.
Of course she had to stop and tie her “untie able” shoes after watching me tie mine, since she had been the one to bend over and untie mine, of course.
Later, I strapped her back in and we continued on. The leaves this time of year are remarkable. The colors are vibrant, although pictures don’t really do them justice.
The silence surrounds you. The only sounds are the crunching of your feet, the occasional call of a bird or flutter of their wings, and the rush of the water in the nearby stream falling over the rocks.
Eventually, EK fell asleep, her head bumping into mine, forbidding her to get a good sound rest. She finally laid her head against mine, pushing my neck forward, causing the tension in my upper back to increase. I lifted up on the pack, adjusting it, trying to relieve some discomfort without disturbing her, but it was only temporary.
It was a great time. It wasn’t the PCT. Thank goodness. It wasn’t 3 months but only shy of 3 hours. But it was enough.
If my back didn’t hurt so badly today, we might even do it again. Maybe.
I hope EK learns to love nature. There is just something about it. Something everyone should experience. We need to escape this modern world every now and again, and find solace in the wild.
And sometimes, we need to trade in our hiking shoes for some heels.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
****The youngest to hike the real PCT was 9 years old. Something to think about.