WILDERNESS: a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings; an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community
The coming fall will be a bit of a milestone. It has been six years since I left my full-time job and became a mostly-stay-at-home-mom-who-runs-a-modestly-profitable-business-on-the-side (MSAHMWRAMPBOTS). But, it’s time for a more reliable and constant income stream.
Hi – ho! Hi – ho! It’s off to work I go!
The impending change has me feeling a little panicked. Throughout my life, I’ve found that stripping life down to the essentials of food and shelter usually brings clarity and peace.
When I graduated college and wasn’t sure what to do next, I packed a remarkably small backpack full of clothes and spent two months soaking in the sights of western Europe that I passed on my search for cheap eats, a place to rest my head, and cute boys with accents (the basics!). When I needed the courage to walk away from a good but not great relationship, I packed my backpack and headed to the Rocky Mountains to clear my head in the thin air. As a new mom reeling from the transition to stay-at-home status, I found a mom as crazy as me and we took our nurse/sleep/poop infant routine on the road to Bryce and Zion National Parks. Each time, the back to basics living has been the recalibration I needed to embrace the next phase of my life.
The looming transition has awakened the need for another pilgrimage. The siren calls from my backpack and boots have been nearly audible. Husband’s nervousness about my sanity has increased in direct proportion to the number of Pacific Crest Trail guidebooks coming home from the public library.
When my brother proposed a four-day trek through Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness, I was eager to accept. At best, I hoped it would make me feel ready for the transition ahead. At worst, I figured it would get me in better shape to spend a month hiking across Washington. My in-laws generously agreed to watch Son and Daughter for three of the days to make the trip possible. Have I told you how incredible they are? Oh, yes…I have.
It was a fantastic trip. The trail had modest elevation gains and losses through stunning landscapes with expansive views and abundant wildflowers. A marmot watched our progress along a ridge. A mountain goat and her two kids joined us for breakfast. We enjoyed meeting a through-hiker named Liz who is attempting to complete the more-of-a-vision-than-a-reality Northwest Trail, but otherwise felt like we had the wilderness to ourselves. We had mostly sunny skies with a dose of daily thunder and hail to keep things interesting. Nothing says sibling bonding like a sister and brother hiding out under a poncho tent for two hours while hails dumps from the sky! Lest you think we found heaven, I will tell you that the bugs were horrendous. I stopped counting the mosquito bites when I got to sixty and had only covered the area below my right knee. But, I can confidently say that it was the most beautiful backpacking trip I’ve taken to date.
Four days and approximately 45 miles later, I find myself relying on words that are not my own to summarize the experience:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
I received the mountains good tidings. I soaked in nature’s peace. I filled my lungs with the fresh winds. I was renewed by the energy of the storms. Just as Husband predicted, I return blistered but happy. Just a little less burdened by the weight of the transition ahead. Just a little more ready to embrace the changes that are coming.
And that is enough…for now.