This weekend marks the end of my third decade on this planet. It’s been a pretty eventful decade, starting as a college student with no clue what life held in store, and winding up a hiker bum with some sort of a plan. That doesn’t sound so unusual for people going through their twenties these days, but knowing you’re in good company doesn’t always make the journey easy. I bounced around seasonal jobs and through-hikes for six years, give or take, fighting against the destiny I’d chosen, before I found hope that I could turn my passions into a real life.
Earlier this week I took advantage of a warm spell that hit the northeast, and got out for a very short and fairly easy hike on Mount Willard, in Crawford Notch. I hadn’t been hiking in more than two weeks, while the flu had me in its devilish grip, so I chose something light to make sure I didn’t overdo it. I’m certainly not old yet, but a few weeks of being sick was a good reminder of my limits. I may no longer be invincible, but if I’m careful I can still pretend that I am.
In the past ten years I’ve held no fewer than a dozen jobs, despite (or maybe because of) spending a total of over 700 nights in the wilderness on backpacking trips or wilderness work. I’ve spent no more than 18 months living in any one place, which seems pretty typical of a through-hiker, but that’s not my ideal life. Maybe now that I’ve found some direction by the end of my twenties, I can work on making some headway in that direction in my thirties.
As I write this, I’m looking ahead at this spring and summer where my plans are a more extreme version of what I did in my earlier years. Once again, I’ll be living out of my backpack for much of the summer, and starting the season with a 1000-mile backpacking trip at a pace that’s faster than anything I’ve done yet. That seems pretty insane to me, but by this point in my life I’ve decided that insane isn’t so bad. It’s boredom and complacency that worry me most.
It was bizarrely warm up top on Mt Willard, so I spent over an hour sitting on the ledges overlooking Crawford Notch. Despite the fairly easy hike up the mountain, I’d never been there and never would have guessed how dramatic the view is. Even after all these years of hiking here, I’m glad I can still be surprised by such a short hike. I hope that kind of thing never stops.