The words that every alternate wants to read. I was somewhere along Vermont’s Long Trail when they were sent to me, in the middle of September and a thru hike. I hesitated. Did I want to drop the life I had planned for the next year to go hike? On a four month notice? With 12 people I’d never met before?

Oh fuck yeah I did. 

The excitement that I felt upon receiving that one short Facebook message is comparable to getting into your top choice graduate school. I spent a solid ten minutes sitting in a shelter with my phone clutched to my chest, rolling around on the floor laughing like a crazy person. People where hiking down from the summit of Mt. Abraham and giving me the most hardcore side eye. Come to think of it, there were quite a few people out that day too. I probably looked real strange. Not sorry.

A few days later I called my best friend to tell him the news. I remember word for word what he told me because it hit me like a sack of bricks; “Woah, dude. This is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. This is going to be bigger than anything I’ve ever qdone.” This is coming from someone who ran a 550 mile race once, and was the only person to finish. It was that sentiment that made me stop and think to myself, “holy shit this is actually happening. This is real.” With that, I think I more fully understood just how challenging this was going to be. Did it cause me to shy away from my decision to take on this hike? Not even a little.

When people ask me if I’m excited about the Great Western Loop, obviously I say yes. Along with that excitement comes a fierce motivation. An understanding that this is way more than just another thru hike. The concept of the GWL seems so massive, so infinitely huge. I’m just one human, and a small one at that. The odds feel stacked against me, or maybe that’s just in my head. Even so, there’s no reason why the underdog can’t come out on top. 

I definitely struggle with self doubt. I’ve asked myself countless times, “what if I fail? What if I’m not fast enough?” I’m managing this lack of confidence by reminding myself to stay present and focus on the things I can do right now. I CAN’T ensure success. I CAN go work out to get stronger, or work on one of the other things on my long term to do list. Right now I have an opportunity to prepare myself. Transitions have historically been tough for me. I tend to isolate myself from my friends, the people that can help me. I tend to come at a long term goal really strong, then burn out too soon thinking about the big picture. Knowing these flaws is half the battle. So, right now I’m simply thinking about right now. Im finishing this blog post and my breakfast, and heading off to work. 

I will navigate this transitional period with tenacity and self discipline, maintaining my connections with others and managing feelings of anxiety by staying present and setting reasonable goals.

Spitfire – Erica Notini

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