Hey y’all it’s Liz! Shout out to all my peeps back at home. I miss you all (especially my baker park fam) and I can’t wait to share everything with everyone once I get back.
The last few days of trekking have been unbelievable. Our bodies have carried us over mountains, across valleys and streams, through both sunshine and thunderstorms. It’s incredible to see what out bodies are capable of, how our legs keep carrying us onward far longer than we would have thought possible. During our trek I felt myself developing a new relationship with my body. Trekking every day with a heavy pack on my back helped me realize all my body does for me and allowed me to feel gratitude for the ways that it has carried me through life. Backpacking is obviously a slow way to travel, and I think that slow way traveling allowed us to develop a greater appreciation for the land that surrounded us. Mountains are impressive from a distance, but it’s something completely different to slowly climb one, to see how the land slowly changes as you go up in elevation, to trek alongside the snow on the peak.
Although our trek was difficult, it was dotted with so many moments of joy. We had a snowball fight in the middle of July, slept in a field surrounded by cows, and traded precious gummies for air tortillas. We had strange conversations while we trekked, sang Billy Joel and Queen while we slid down the steep walk down storm pass, and stuffed our faces with the pie and cake that Dave brought us. We grew closer as a group and learned to appreciate the little things in life. We have grown comfortable being uncomfortable.
Every night one of us has shared our life map, which is in other words the story of what has made each of us who we are today. After I shared my life map the first night of our trek, Nate O asked me a what I was hoping to get out if this trip. I told him that I wanted to come home more full. I think that this trek definitely made me feel more full. It made me appreciate the breath in my lungs, the power in my legs, the beauty that surrounds us every step of the way. So often I think that the present moment tends to slip between out fingers, but these last few days I’ve felt the present moment stretch and grow, enveloping me completely.
I’ve already learned so much from the places we’ve seen and the people we’ve met. I’ve learned about the fragility of land and water systems, the precarious balance of human needs and the natural world. I’ve learned that instant coffee is sacred while backpacking. I’ve learned about the importance of words, of the language we use with people and places. I’ve learned to open up, to see that there’s more to people than what’s on the surface. I’ve learned how to exist in wild places and show respect to the land. I’ve learned to show gratitude and to sink deeper into each moment. I’ve learned about the importance of intentionality in everything you do. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I still have so much more to learn.
Last week I was scrolling through Nate O’s book of quotes and found one of my favorite poems. The words have stuck with me all week and gave helped carry me through each challenge I’ve faced on this trek so far:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
Love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
Are moving across the landscapes,
Over the prairies and the deep trees,
The mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,
Are heading home again.
Wherever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination,
Calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting –
Over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.
– Mary Oliver
To all my peeps back at home, I’m sending you all my love from Colorado