Yesterday, halfway into an 8 mile run (with a 20lb pack) I cried for the first time in years; a full-blown tears streaming down my face, snot-dripping sort of cry. I am faulted with pride, and like many young men I spent my childhood learning to suppress my more vulnerable emotions making it very hard for me to cry today. In the past year, I have experienced intense loneliness and heartbreak, but the feelings never translated to tears even when I wanted them to.
In 4 weeks from today, I will attempt to speed-hike the entire 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. My goal is to average 25 miles a day for over 100 days so I can complete the trail in time to go back to school in August.
I also suffer from a rare genetic skin disease that makes my skin extremely sensitive to the sun, unable to sweat efficiently, and very uncomfortable and unattractive without showers and applications of heavy lotion. My skin disease acts in direct opposition of my passion for hiking and getting immersed in wilderness; I don’t let it stop me. I have created a fundraising page to help me raise money to pay for supplies and to raise funds to support Ichthyosis research and awareness (my skin disease). The support so far has been overwhelming.
The reason I cried yesterday is the immense gratitude I feel to those who are supporting me on this journey. Hiking the PCT at any pace without a skin disease is a monumental accomplishment and takes a huge amount of support from friends, family, and strangers alike. Although, I have not started the hike I already feel a web of support and love that I never expected.
A heart full of gratitude is a wind at your back and no matter how hot the dessert or how tall the mountains I will not stop because with each step there is someone behind me pushing me to go further. I don’t think I will ever deserve or be able to pay back all of the gifts I have been given, but I will start with gratitude.