Tomorrow is the big day. It was an interesting feeling as I was deleting old pictures from my phone, trying to create space and longer battery life for the trip. I realized that I have been planning this trip now for over a year and it’s happening tomorrow.
For those of you who don’t know, I will be attempting to complete the Iron Belle Trail, which is a brand new trail that broke ground last summer in Michigan. The trail itself is actually only about 64%and 69% finished (hiking and biking respectively). It is 791 miles of biking and 1,273 miles of hiking, give or take some route finding in that 36% and 31% of unfinished trail. If I finish, I believe I will be the first person to thru hike and bike the trail. Even though it’s no PCT or intense western trail (I’m assuming), I am extremely excited by the prospect of venturing into the unknown and trying something that has never been done before. That seems like a hard thing to find these days. The goal is to finish by August 20th, 2016.
People have asked, “How do you feel? Are you ready? Have you been training? Have you found a job?” all valid questions. But to be honest, I don’t know that I can answer any of those questions well. (except for have you been training- no I haven’t, in true Gleason fashion, I’m currently operating under the off the couch philosophy…we’ll see how that works out for me) What I can say is that I feel very jittery because of the amount of coffee I have coursing through my body today.
I know I’m pretty well prepared, but I before every trip, there’s always that feeling that you’re missing something (and chances are, I probably am). My roommates and I were laughing at the fact that before I left Colorado, my brain was so all over the place, that my to do list looked a little like this:
” Get whiskey, get jeans off drying rack, get Sudoku book, get chakra candle…”
You know, the important things. There were just so many little things that all added up and made it feel overwhelming, so I needed to just write it down and get it out of my head.
It’s a pretty parallel feeling to life right now and trying to process some of those big questions. I don’t have a job, I luckily have 2 more months of paychecks, I don’t have a house (except for Penny my beautiful Toyota Sienna), and I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing when I get off this trail. All of these things make it easy to get overwhelmed with anxiety, especially when you come from the Midwest and the people who ask you those questions probably think that a 30 year old should be married with 3 kids by now.
As I’m sitting down and trying to write some of these emotions and questions down, the list goes on: excited, scared, anxious, psyched, eager, terrified, happy… and the emotions go from one extreme to the other. I’ve realized that the reason it’s a risk is it’s unknown and the beautiful thing is I don’t have to know. I don’t have to be overwhelmed. Instead of being afraid, I can look at all of those unknown things from a different perspective and embrace them as a challenge and an adventure. An adventure can be defined as the following:
“noun: an exciting or very unusual experience; participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure; a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome; a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.”
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of those definitions apply. I’m sure the experience will be unusual and exciting. It is definitely an exciting enterprise. It will be somewhat hazardous and the outcome is uncertain. I most certainly and speculating with my finances. I know there will be tears, and sweat, and hard work, but there will also be joy and love and opportunity.
So while I may not be able to answers those big questions well or even at all, I can say this: maybe it’s naïve or foolish of me and it definitely comes from a place of privilege, but I am so excited that I don’t have a job, and so excited that I don’t have a house, and so excited that I have no freaking clue what I’m doing because it means I have the privilege of having an adventure. It means that I get to experience something unusual and risky, and I get the opportunity to see if I can boldly rise to the challenge and push past my perceived limitations, forging my way through the air! Adventure is my quarry and my quarry is sighted- Tally- ho!
If you would like to follow along the trail with me, follow me on Instagram at @bethanyglee. Or send me a message on Facebook and I’ll add you to the email update list.