1. Am I making the Colorado Trail harder, scarier and more challenging than it is?
I'm planning a thru-hike of the CT, a 567 mile trail winding from Denver to Durango, beginning in late July. Compared to the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or Continental Divide trail, the CT is a a "mini" long trail. Some days I think "how am I ever going to feel ready for this?" I get most stressed about my training. I want to be out hiking high altitudes and long distances, but it keeps snowing!
2. Am I under preparing for the CT?
Some days I think, "it's just a bunch of 5-6 day backpacking trips strung together. (there are towns to stop in along the way) It's not like I'm going to starve if I run out of food. I'm still in my home state, if something happens I can always just get a ride home." Then I worry that my nonchalant attitude will get me into trouble. Every day I have to work to find the balance between being prepared and relaxed.
3. What will my career (I hate that word) look like in 1, 5, 10 years? Is it anything like what I'm imagining now, or has it evolved into something I haven't thought of yet?
Last April, when I started considering a life pivot, I didn't imagine becoming a life coach. I researched different fields, and decided to take classes in outdoor recreation and leadership, knowing that I didn't want to be a guide or park ranger, but not knowing what I DID want to be. I figured my path would reveal itself if I just kept walking in the direction that felt right. Even though my path eventually led me to coaching, I know that I have not arrived at my final destination. Just because I think I know what I want to be doing, doesn't mean it'll stay that way.
4. Will my back ever not hurt?
I've had chronic back pain since I was in high school, and for years it was just something annoying that I lived with. Recently the pain increased and started impacting daily life. Six weeks ago I tweaked it to the point of not being able to stand up straight for a few days, and finally started physical therapy. I have made so much progress in the last six weeks, and am able to move in ways I haven't in years. I'm starting to let myself wonder if a life without daily back pain is available to me.
5. At the end, when I look back on my life, what will my favorite memories be?
I know this sounds kind of morbid, but I'm often surprised when I think back on something that didn't seem all that fun or special in the moment, and feel a deep appreciation for the memory of it.
6. Will I complete all of the CO 14ers?
Depending on who you ask, there are 52-58 named summits over 14,000' in Colorado. Every summer I try to bag a handful of them. I go back and forth on wanting to summit all of them. Some of them sound freaking scary!
7. How will I feel/be different after thru-hiking the CT?
Sometimes I think hiking the CT will be a life-changing experience. I'll walk away feeling more enlightened with a deeper connection with myself and nature. Then I catch myself worrying that having that expectation will result in me feeling let down. When I ran my first (only) marathon, during my training runs I'd imagine crossing the finish line, overwhelmed by emotions and the feeling of accomplishment. I crossed the finish line and felt... tired. I built it up so much, it ended up being kind of a let down. I keep reminding myself that I can't tell the story before I live the story.
8. How will my husband and I leave our mark on the world? What will our greatest achievement together be?
My husband and I don't share a lot of hobbies. A self proclaimed "indoorsman", he values stable wifi, fine dining and a lively social calendar. A day in the great outdoors is typically spent on a golf course. While our activities don't always align, our values do. We both prioritize time with our families, we view money as something to be earned and enjoyed and believe in the importance of taking care of our mental and physical health. We've been together since we were in our early 20's and spend the first decade of our relationship focused inward, building our careers and social circles. Now, in our 30's, I think we both feel the need to create something focused outward. Something that benefits not only us, but everyone around us as well.
9. Will I always love and crave hiking the way I do now?
I bail on hiking sometimes. I’m tired, I don’t feel like driving, or I really have too many chores to catch up on. I definitely prefer summer hiking to winter, but if I haven’t been on a trail in a week or so, I start to really miss it. I’ve gone through phases of interest with other things, I was really into drawing and painting a few years ago. Right now, it’s not a priority and I haven’t touched a paintbrush in months. I get into gardening in the spring and summer, but by mid-August I start to lose steam. Love for the trail though, doesn’t seem to fade.
10. Will I ever not want to live in Colorado?
I fell in love with Colorado the moment I laid eyes on it. At 12 years old I made the decision to move here after I graduated high school, and never second guessed that plan. I did move to California for a few years (my husbands idea) but Colorado was still home and we ended up back here 3 years later (my idea). There are a lot of places I love. Places closer to family, places with (slightly) better weather. If home is where the heart is, my home is here.
After wondering the answers to all of these questions, I realize I don't actually want or need to know the answers right now. The fun part isn't knowing where we're going, it's seeing how we get there.