Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Vision Quest and a Walkabout

The most frequently asked question I've had regarding my desire to walk a 2650mile/4200km continuous wilderness trail, probably taking 5 months to complete with the bare basics is: "Why would you want to do such a thing?" The most obvious and simple answer I can give, quoting an awe inspiring adventurer of the 1920's, George Mallory, is : "Because it's there." That is the simple beauty of it! An unspoilt narrow footpath exists from the south of the United States on the Mexican border and continues, uninterrupted all the way through mind blowing, breathtaking natural beauty along the spine of the mountain ranges through California, Oregon and Washington, into Canada....I mean, wow, who wouldn't want to take such a magnificent journey?

 There is however obviously a lot more to it. An important aspect to mention is physical conditioning. After 5 years of completing many marathons, ultra marathons, trail runs and an extreme adventure race, I am fit, I know what I'm capable of both mentally, emotionally and physically and I don't want to put off until a later date what I can do now. Life does not necessarily guarantee us another day, week or year, so I'm going to seize the day, seize the moment and pursue my dream while I can and while I'm able to. "Carpe Diem" has always been one of my favorite motto's and I want to look back on my life without regrets and without wishing "if only I had done that then."

 Then there is "The Journey". Aside from the physical journey, these extreme outdoor experiences in nature are also spiritual journeys and self development journeys as experienced in many different cultures around the world and throughout history. There is the "Vision Quest" experienced in some Native American cultures, a journey into the wilderness without distraction to find a more meaningful purpose to one's life and a deeper understanding to one's existence. During this rite of passage, the individual spends many nights secluded out in the wilderness which provides time for deep introspection and communion with the other unseen forces and energies that we are distracted from in daily life. Often a guardian animal or force of nature will become a guide to the experience. I have already experienced this in my extreme ultra running on the Hawaiian Islands, where I became aware of my "Aumakua" or Hawaiian animal guardian in the form of an owl or "Pueo".The aumakua appeared to me on many occasions when I was either in danger, hurt and struggling or isolated in the night along a strange lonely road. It occurred too many times at these significant moments for it to be a co-incidence and so now I know that my animal guide is the owl. The Australian Aborgines go on a "Walkabout" for as long as six months into the wilderness as a rite of passage into the next phase of life. There are many more examples from history, religion and spiritual writings that refer to the value of undertaking such a life changing challenge. So this may certainly be a part of the experience as well. It'll be interesting to read my blog at the end of it all and find out what I gained from the walkabout along the PCT.

"Time out" might also be another good reason. After 25 plus years of non stop working as a nurse doing long hours and exhausting shifts, I am finally allowing myself to take some serious time out. All I have to do each day is wake up and walk, then pitch my tent when I get tired. The simplicity sounds very appealing, although comfort and adequate food will be lacking and of course it has taken a lot of forethought and preparation to allow me the luxury of taking the time out to do it. Experiencing the natural beauty of the western mountain ranges of North America is another big draw card. I'll be traversing through a desert (the Mojave), along mountain ranges (the Sierra Nevada's and Cascades),and through some of the most pristine parts of this side of the country that will leave me in awe, no doubt. I'm sure the feeling of gratitude that one has had the opportunity to experience the gift of life and the splendors of our planet will accompany me on many parts of the trail.

So in conclusion, there are many reasons to embark upon such a journey and I'm sure each reason will be experienced at different moments along the journey. Thank you, the reader, for accompanying me on this amazing adventure.I hope to share all the epic moments with you as well as the miserable moments which will make it a real experience, the way life is...Aloha!
My Aumakua or animal spirit guardian, the Pueo (owl)