We’re Taking a Long Walk

The John Muir Trail

What’s the John Muir Trail? I’ll let the PCTA explain HERE.

For me it started with the book “Almost Somewhere: 28 Days on the John Muir Trail,”(solid title, by the way) by Suzanne Roberts. If I can remember correctly, I read the book sometime in the summer of 2012, just before my Senior year at UNH. My sister had been living in Bozeman, Montana for almost two years. She was diving headlong into backpacking culture and I was standing on the sand romanticizing about adventure, yet not really thinking backpacking was something I could actually do.

I had become more involved with hiking through several summer jobs across my college years, and felt confident about hiking the Whites of New Hampshire, but Western hiking? Yikes. It also did not help that I never really found a social niche at school or beyond that really welcomed my interest in learning more about “outdoor adventure.” It seemed to me that most of my peers were partaking in the activities more for social importance than from an intrinsic love of it all. There’s also the added bonus of needing certain gear for backpacking, most importantly, a backpack. Backpacks cost money. And therein lies the conflict.

In her book, Roberts is honest about her struggles on the JMT: physical, mental, and interpersonal. I connected with what she had to say, and she made me feel that perhaps I, too, could do the John Muir Trail.

I mentioned the book and the idea of it to my sister on the phone a few months later. Little did I know that she would take me seriously. Little did I know that my whole family would take me seriously, and then push to get me, Claire, and our younger cousin Katie, on board with actually DOING the thing.

A year after graduating college and living at home as a retiree with a part time job and a new love of knitting, I moved out to Bozeman to work at a science school for the summer of 2014. I was living with my Aunt and Uncle at the time. One night, while casually going about my business, my uncle said to me, “So, you guys really need to start planning for the JMT…like, NOW.”

“Uhhhh..what?” I said with what was, I’m sure, a very intelligent look upon my face. It had never occurred to me that anyone was thinking seriously about it. It was akin to the time when, as a Sophomore at university, I was enamored with the idea of getting a tattoo. I casually mentioned this to my sister, thinking maybe we could get matching ink. Two years later, tattoo completely forgotten by me, my sister comes to visit and says, “Let’s get those matching tattoos.” We had them the next day.

Tattoos fresh off the press circa 2013. Photo credit: Charles True
Tattoos fresh off the press circa 2013. Very scandalous, I know. Thanks, college. 
Photo credit: Charles True

So here we are. Claire and I have been planning the trip for about 9 months. We have our wilderness permit (which, believe me, was a miracle to obtain), I have a crap load of gear (thanks to actually working full-time), and a pretty great support system behind us (thanks Mom, Dad, John, and Mozelle). All that’s left for me to do is get my ass in shape (for lack of a better phrase- I won’t bore you with my qualms about the term “in shape”) so the trip is enjoyable and not total hell.

My talented mother, being a professor of biology, sports, and exercise science (among many other things), has written me a 7-week training program to prepare ~ma bod~ for the trail (Click to view!: Molly Hiking Program 15). If you’ve made it this far in this post, you may as well take a look at the program. It has all the data about my physical condition while living at an elevation of about 2,000 ft. in New Hampshire. (Bozeman is appx. 5000 ft. above sea level; Mt. Whitney is more than 14,000 ft…just to give you an idea…).

For those of you who do not wish to read all the data, I will translate for you: I am severely average. I am also extremely body privileged on the scale of physical ability. All my appendages work. My physical challenges are as follows: reactive airway disease (basically acute asthma), tendency towards tension headaches, Osgood-Schlatter’s in my left knee (which is really fun), random knee pain generally, a tendency towards lower back spasms caused by messed up alignment and lack of strength all around my SI joint (see below!), core, and pelvis. So basically, while I WILL be able to do it, this training is going to be anything but easy for me.

SI Joint- the meeting of your Sacrum and Ilium. Anatomy. Learn it.

So, if you’re into it, I’ll be reporting on my progress through this blog as the seven weeks going along. I hope to be proof that and average person CAN do it. YOU, whether you’re average, super-strong, super-weak, or just disillusioned can probably do it too. Why? Because we live in a beautiful world. I want to see all that I can.

Kind regards,

Molly


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