The day after we lost Taylor on the Ozark Trail, Cooper and I committed to hiking twenty miles West to the car so that we could spend the day searching for him on a spur trail that headed South.
Up until that point on our hike, we hadn’t gone further than 14 miles in one day. I had flashbacks to the time I was training for the Nike Women’s Marathon and had a 20 mile training run to do, by myself. I was filled with anxiety the day before and remember having a minor panic attack as I fretted over the physical task in front of me.
Those feelings rushed back and filled my mind with doubt the minute we made our plans for the twenty mile hike. Apathy hadn’t been a recurring emotion during the hike so far, but how would we feel after hiking six miles longer than usual while also being worried about Taylor?
The sun rose over the trees shining down on the small gravel lot where we had set up camp. It has been a colder night with everything still wet from the previous night’s storm. In a catatonic state, we absentmindedly packed away our dew soaked tent, squeezed the excess water out of our socks, and pulled the waist strap across our bruised and beaten hips. No turning back now, we had a mission to complete.
The morning moved quickly, one foot in front of the next as we navigated our way over the approaching inclines and through the switchbacks. We came across a beautiful waterfall stationed next to one of the best campsites we had seen on the entire trail, some deer running through the forest as they heard our approaching footsteps, and some horseback riders heading West for the day to the same place we were headed. We never stopped for long, instead taking note of what was around us and pushing on to make sure we reached our destination in time.
When the going got rough, we would start to chant “Pizza, pizza, pizza” in celebration of us being able to eat our favorite meal that night. We worked so methodically with one another, naturally filling in the silent space when we felt the drained energy of our partner or completing routine tasks without a second thought as we tried to satisfy one another’s basic needs for nourishment. More than any other adventure we had taken together, we operated seamlessly as partners.
Cooper and I have traveled extensively with one another considering the duration of our relationship. We claim our first date to have been a two week road trip from Sacramento to Portland, ME and we lived out of a hammock for five months in the small town of Crown King, AZ. I’ve always felt that we were natural travel companions for one another as we prove time and again that we’re willing to push ourselves to complete the travel aspirations of the other. During this twenty-miler, those feelings of compatibility were stronger than they had ever been. The hike felt like solid proof that we could accomplish some pretty remarkable things if we had the other by our side.
In light of that, we finally committed to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail starting in the Spring of 2017. We’ve both talked, in a noncommittal way, about our desire to do this. After we hiked the Ozark trail, it felt right to “officially” agree to take this next step together.
The final step for us to make this official was to start pulling together the finances to make it happen. We’ve been working multiple jobs for the past few months and scrimping where we can to help create the necessary buffer to save up for all of our adventures. We’re doing well in reaching our goal, but we’re asking for help where possible to try to reach our goal. We set up a GoFundMe page and I’ve been impressed by the generosity of others. We’ve had an amazing amount of donations in just a short period of time and often from people we don’t know who express a firm belief in what we’re doing.
When you live like us, it’s easy to get discouraged by those that don’t value the travel and challenges we put ourselves up to. We’ve heard the comments and we’ve let them pass over us in an effort to stay true to what is most important to us. It’s been incredible seeing the other side of this and to know we have loved ones who support the lifestyle we live.
I’ll continue to update the blog here, as well as post our thank yous to donors. Feel free to check out our campaign, and any advice, suggestions, questions, etc. about our next big goal is appreciated.
Here’s a link to the campagin: https://www.gofundme.com/2dd7kg4
Till then, happy hiking!