This is it

The final 88 miles of the trail are before me.

Just 88 miles to Manning Park, BC.

88 miles has never seemed so far.

‘It’s the end of an era’ my grandma wrote in her last care package.

The journey of a lifetime, I’m told.  And it’s true.  A journey full of unexpected surprises.

It’s November, there’s another snowstorm coming.  Why am I still out here?

Quite frankly. Why not?

There’s never been a reason not to be out here.  This is what I thrive on.

I was asked once (or perhaps many times) why I was so slow if I didn’t have a problem with speed or injuries.  My reply: ‘I’m not slow (or late), I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.’

Just exactly where I’m supposed to be.

So much of the joy of this journey happened because I was right where I was, when I was there.  So many people were met, new friends made, sunsets watched, stars gazed at…

Life happens because of the choices we make. 

I chose to hike this trail with my dad and sister, we picked what seemed to be a random day in April.

Team No Hurries was born after we hiked one mile and walked into the store at Campo to spend all the change in our pockets on V8 and use a flush toilet one last time.

Yep.

Everything that happened after that, happened because of that first choice.

We had a blast.  Took days off when we needed them.  Enjoyed sitting on porches. Laughed at our devolement into hikertrash. 

Then, one by one, I lost my hiking partners.

It was a bit lonely in Oregon.  I discovered I really don’t enjoy hiking solo.  I’m glad I did for a week.  Gained some perspective.  Talked to myself way too much.

Then I ran into Silent D again.  (Actually, my dad and our friend Gnarly were looking for me at Willamette Pass and saw Silent D first, and sort of kidnapped him).

There’s a friend out here!

We hiked on.

We became the Lollygag Crew.

He jokes that I’m cursed with having slow hiking partners. Perhaps.

Probably would have been done with the trail a couple months ago, and on with life (whatever that might be).

But I don’t mind.  I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun.  I’m rather glad to have been slowed down.

I was once told that at the Kickoff event, I looked way too relaxed, like I was just going for a walk in the park.  Probably wouldn’t make it. (Yep, that comment almost set off the redhead fury).

But it was a walk in the park.  A very big park.

Pitting yourself against what Mother Nature throws at you is where the adventure starts. 

I want to find out just exactly what I’m made of.  Discover my limits,  my perceived limits and what I can push through.

This is why I spend about half of every year living in the wilderness.  The beautiful days are great.  But you learn the most about yourself when the going gets tough.  Throw in the inclement weather and roll with it.

I’ve hiked through about a month of storms.  I know I can survive them.  Got the right gear, the right training and skills.  The game becomes mental.  I wonder sometimes why I’m doing this after three days of rain, or slogging through snow and slush.  But then the sun comes out again! It always does eventually.  It’s like a breath of fresh air when the clouds lift a bit and you can see an epic view, or there’s a ray of sun through the clouds. 

Then I remember. 

That touch of beauty in the world is more precious when it’s fleeting.

I was told I was crazy to think I would make it to Canada when I was hitting the Oregon/Washington border early October.  (These comments actually started in the Sierras when I was told I was late, should give up the dream, set a lesser goal.  As I kept hiking, I started to be called insane.  Insane for trying? Isn’t crazier not to try?)

I am a dreamer.  And I am a doer.

It’s a tough road to dream big.  You have to fight for it.  Work for it.  Struggle with it.  Give everything to that dream.

And it’s worth it.

In the end it’s always worth it.

I’m 88 miles from accomplishing this dream.

This close to the goal, and yet there’s still a question mark if I’ll make it or not.

Makes the end exciting.

It’s going to get colder.  There’s going to be more snow coming.  We know our last exit points.  We’ve been studying the map for over a week now.  Giving ourselves seven days to get there.  Talking on the phone with my dad, he asks if we have enough food.  Next to me, Silent D has just filled his food bag with 20+ pounds of food.  ‘Oh yeah.  We have food.’  In fact, after a few miles we’re going to start looking for people to give food to.  We’re also packing snowshoes as our insurance policy.  (And no, I haven’t weighed my pack since I left Oregon.)

Ready for some more high passes.  Ready for more snow. Ready for colder nights.

Up to the end, there’s no easy on this trail.

I have to earn Canada.

Earn it with everything I’ve got.

I’m still hiking North.

About Natalie

Natalie Fisher is a dancer, teacher, silk aerialist, and choreographer. She is inspired by the wilderness. Her work involves finding the seam where her worlds of dance, aerials and the wilderness meet.

6 thoughts on “This is it

  1. go nat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! be safe, i’m rooting for you! forgot to tell you that your experience in the goat rocks sounded similar to mine. i bailed out after three days of rain and snow, wind and no visibility on the knives edge. missed 18.6 miles……….still need to hike that……….someday. your notes have made me start dreaming of the cdt……..
    who did you get to see at holden? i miss that place and the cascades. be safe, can’t wait to hear about the end.

    love,
    socks

  2. Keep going…keep going!! You have people who you have never met (like me) who have been able to live vicarious dreams by traveling along with you through your website posts. I’m cheering for you! I hope the weather doesn’t hold you back from reaching Canada. Good luck. Treasure these last 7 days. My friends and I recently circumnavigated Mt. Hood over 3 days. I had conversations with them about you and your website while we were on the PCT section of the Timberline trail. Good luck on finishing the trail!!

  3. Whew! Your journey is more than covering miles. Your tales from the trail are certainly giving me an impression of your accomplishment, partly because it involves more than just putting your head down and focusing solely on covering the miles. Here’s hoping the final 88 goes well, without too much rain and snow.

  4. Wow, Natalie… you’re like my hero or something… 😀
    Seriously! Not only the mere fact of being outdoors and lovin’ it, but the whole awesome hugeness of hiking the PCT awes me. Also wowed that you find the time and means to post updates and share your thoughts. Do so hope you will publish your blog or write a book or, you know, just continue to wow the world!!!
    Our prayers continue with you,
    ~Jo & Dane

  5. Natalie!!!
    I am so impressed you are still on the trail with the onset of winter and somewhat jealous! I got to Manning in September and now I miss trail life. You are hard core and keep on trekking! Hope to share pct stories sometime in Chelan and enjoy the rest of your hike! Stacia (Chief)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *