Hello family, friends, and strangers alike.
Starting mid April, I will be embarking on a 2,650 mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This walk will carry me through deserts, mountains, and thousands of miles of natural beauty as I make my way northbound towards Canada starting from the Mexican Border.
From my childhood, mountains have always been a place of safety and comfort to me, and I have continued to return to them as I have gotten older. Life spent outdoors present continual challenges, but these are defined and objective difficulties. You navigate towards future water sources in triple digit weather, haul your butt up and over the next mountain pass, take shelter from the sudden horizontal hail; those types of things. You see, it’s not all fun and games when you’re outside, and there are a hell of a lot of times where things objectively *suck*. A lot.
But you overcome them.
I can’t say the same things for the life I live inside of my own head. Clouds will arise and obscure the light that burns within me, without a convenient explanation why. Months would pass with my entire life seen in greyscale, lacking the warmth and lust for literally anything that helps to feel alive. And then one day… Poof. Back to normal. This has happened four times now, each time cycling on and off as if controlled by some outside force.
As it turns out, it’s not all that hard to act as if everything is fine and dandy in your life, and I quickly learned how to autopilot through my reality. The scary part about this? Autopilot is quite different from living, and I end up losing a lot of what lets me feel alive. Think of it like this. You know how you can be driving your car home, and all of a sudden you blink and you’re in the driveway with no real memory of the actual journey? Now imagine blinking and losing your entire day. Or days. Or months.
I have had a lot of time to think in this past year, and noticed that I wasn’t a huge fan of the life I had been living. Despite the good job, financial freedom, interesting hobbies, and a bubbling social life, I was unable to track down anything I was passionate about. After running through of a mental inventory, searching for the things in my life that actually bring me joy and fulfillment, a series of thoughts flowed back over me. Thoughts of spending time outdoors, getting lost, getting sunburned, with every crease on my body caked in with salt and dust. And the thing is? Despite the sometimes overwhelming amounts of type 2 fun, these were the fondest memories in my life. Smiles for miles, baby.
So… why not smile more?
This year, I will hike on to raise awareness for those fighting the same battles I continue to fight. I am doing my part to both break down the sigma brought with mental illness, and to conserve and protect the public spaces that have allowed me a place to heal. I aim to raise $2650 for the non-profit organization Hiking for Mental Health in support for this cause, $1 per mile of the PCT. Please help me to support this cause as I move forward on my journey on the trail, and as we all move through this journey we call life.
1 in 4 families is affected by mental illness.
HIKE for Mental Health is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded on the vision of a world in which everyone, including those who suffer mental illness, can find the simple joy of living.
Our mission is to alleviate the suffering of those afflicted by mental illness, eliminate the associated stigma, and foster responsible use of wilderness trails.
As an all-volunteer organization, we distribute 100% of contributions raised by our hikes.
- 80% funds scientific research to understand and treat mental illness
- 20% conserves national wilderness trails
Your donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by the IRS. Thank you for your support.
To learn more, visit hikeformentalhealth.org.
To join a hike click here.