Whenever I muster up the energy to do one of these multi-week walks, the night before I leave always feels sort of brooding, contemplative, fraught with self-examination. Butterflies, even. What exactly am I getting myself into here? What I am I trying to do? I better calm down.
Judging from my training hikes over the past couple of months, my 67 year old bod may have reached its long distance limits. I think can go for 8-10 miles without too much trouble, so 12-13 miles is probably in range. But 16-20 miles? It may not happen on this trip, or any future trip either. Can I do 12-13 miles four or five days in a row? Probably, but maybe not.
Fact is, I am getting old and I kind of like it this way. I am going to take it relatively easy this time. If I don't feel like hiking some days, I won't. If I am not enjoying a section because of boring road walks or gag-inducing poo water, I might up and leave that part behind, head for the beauty, thumb my nose at the notion of thru hiking, just sample the AZT my own durn way.
I constructed a new motto recently, which I believe I have earned by virtue of working hard for a living what seems now like eons ago. If somebody, anybody, objects to the hike I choose to hike over the next couple of months, I am simply going to smile and say:
"It's a good thing I don't give a shit!"
Who knows, maybe I'll walk all 800 miles this year, maybe I won't. But I intend to try this trail out and see what it brings, simply for the pure fun of it. Ma Nature, come hither, show me what you got. But be gentle, please, none of that polar vortex stuff, alright? What do you have in way of colorful wildflowers and fancy cloud formations? Any hoodoos in the area? Oh please let me see a gila monster!
Tomorrow I will ride the train, an experience which I generally love. I might start hiking Sunday, but only if the timing is right, we'll see. Tonight I will burn sage and relax. Let the butterflies do their thing.
Peace, Love, and Preparation,