As time continues to pass, more thoughts and realizations come into the forefront of my mind. Just the other night, I was talking with Mike about my failure as a hiking partner on the trail. Both male hiking partners I had on the trail grew tired of hiking with me and no longer talk to me.
The first one told me he did not want to take part in my competition to finish the trail. At first when he told me this on the trail, I did not understand and thought he had just grown too close to me and needed to get away from me due to his strong feelings for me. Then, I read "a journey north" by adrienne hall and had it hit home by her about the need to show the men on the trail that despite our minority status on the trail we women are still able to thru-hike the trail at the same pace as men. Between this and my husband telling me I am competitive despite my constantly trying to convince myself differently, I have come to realize the fall of that first friendship. In regards to that realization, I am also trying to tame my need for competition and keep it solely in competitive circles.
My mother and I also talked about this recently and brought up the idea of women on the trail not only having the competition with the male companions but also within one's self to prove we are worth something. I have never seen myself as a normal woman. Some would look at me and think I am a feminist due to my unshaven legs or my independent attitude; however, I feel I am an individual without labels. For the most part, I try to be true to myself...something my husband reminded me I always need to keep in sight! This brings me to my second male hiking partner.
For the last 2 months of my hiking experience on the Appalachian Trail, I hiked with a wonderful male companion who was kind and giving. He, however, started accusing me of not voicing my opinions around the end of our time together. I am still baffled by this and I guess a little disturbed by this accusation, thus the conversation between my husband and I the other night. When I mentioned this accusation to my husband, he could not believe I would not voice my opinions. He has heard my opinions on many things whether he wants to or not. I guess I am like his friend, Adam, in that regard!
On the trail, when hiking with someone, I quite often adjusted my itinerary to the person with whom I was hiking. In the beginning, it was Montana and I working together trying to see how far we could push ourselves. Hardcore and I hiked together for a week altering our schedule for each other. Spice Rack and I would come up with certain stops we wanted to make and decide whether we wanted to join each other at these stops or not. With my husband, I was pretty much in charge and told him what to do; however, that is a totally different relationship than what I had with the other thru-hikers having their own experiences on the trail. Mike was out there to assist me in completion of my journey!
I may never grasp the idea of my not voicing my opinions on the trail, but often thought it had something to do with not wanting to piss people off. Over time, I have also come to realize I have my father's disease of wanting people to like me. So, maybe I didn't voice my opinions as much as I do around friends. At the same time, I can't think back to a spot along the trail where I needed to have an opinion. All I did each day was walk. There isn't much opinion to be had about that other than thinking it sucks some days and then being taken aback by the scenery the next day! When my opinion mattered or was asked for I would certainly give it.
Those are just some of my thoughts that have continued to plague my mind as I adjust to life off the trail. I am in a phase right now of reflecting a lot on my trail experience. My job often makes me think of my journey as I try to assist others with their adventure needs. The trail has changed me and my outlook on life. As the holidays grow near, I find myself wanting to run to the woods for another 5 months or more. My mind is constantly searching for the next adventure to be had. Unfortunately, I need to keep me adventures to small trips lasting no longer than maybe a couple weeks or a long weekend! Colorado is full of spaces for that kind of adventure, though, and I look forward to experiencing everything I can with the time available! So, keep watching the blog to see what this crazy woman will do next and what I will learn as I reflect on my experiences in the world!