When I think back on the Sierra, it’s hard to believe that it was only 24 days long— it feels like it took an eternity. It was a section full of extremes that overwhelmed me: the most breathtaking scenery, the most difficult terrain, the most hunger, the most delicious water, the most fear, the most wildness, and the most memorable stories. This section was, hands down, the most difficult section of trail for us, but not the worst. Despite a lot of dumb decisions and negative memories, the trail’s beauty is something that I keep coming back to. When I strip away my feelings of fear and hunger, I can’t help but love the incredible sights we saw. There’s a reason I desperately want to return someday.
The Sierra did teach me that I am not a John-Muir-type nature enthusiast. I appreciate nature, but I love the comfort of civilization. I was so relieved when we got to the end of the section and started seeing evidence of humans again. I am eternally grateful that the United States has managed to preserve some wilderness areas, but I’m a big fan of civilization. After the Sierra I appreciated my creature comforts a lot more: options for getting food if we needed it, places with Internet or cell service so we could keep in touch with people back home, and so on.
When we left the trail for a week to recuperate in Sacramento, I was afraid that I wouldn’t want to go back. But that didn’t happen. Not at all. From the moment we got to Sacramento, I felt happy and confident that we were going to return. Our bodies were at a breaking point, but somewhere in there, my spirit was still tenacious. The trail had already shown us so many wonders: how could we give up now?
I’m grateful for the experience that the Sierra gave me, both in teaching me how to hike in the mountains and helping me learn to trust God with every literal step. I only hope that one day I’ll be able to return with what I know now and experience the Sierra the way they should be— an adventure in one of the most beautiful places in the world.