Here, I’ll share my adventures and learnings with you while walking the Pacific Crest Trail. This wilderness path stretches from Mexico to Canada, through deserts, high mountains and volcanic landscapes.
You might wonder, why did I decide to hike more than four thousand kilometers, in often tough conditions?
Well, last year I was living a comfy life when one day my love Lisa noticed a bump in my neck, hidden under my beard. It was a golf ball sized tumor.
Luckily benign, but It had to be surgically removed. So I found myself four days in the hospital. It made me think about life, about my life.
Do you ever feel that your life is speeding up, years flying by faster, faster and faster? That your experiences sometimes seem a bit repetitive? Perceiving déjà vus, groundhog day?
That’s what I felt reflecting on the past decades of my life. They were mostly wonderful and I feel privileged.
But I was often over-focused on work. Not always giving my loving friends and family the attention they deserve. Postponing life adventures for the sake of security, peace of mind, routines and obligations.
With a new mindset and crucial questions, I clumsily stumbled out of the hospital. What should I do differently? Who am I, where do I stand for and where do I want to go?
Then I read this:
Everyone who has the opportunity, should make a long wilderness journey sometime in their lifetime. You learn more from it than from reading a thousand books.From: Myra de Rooy, Norway in the Length (1)
This phrase touched a string deep inside me. Wild camping adventures in the mountains are among my most cherished memories. But those memories are rare and short.
A few weeks later, I stumbled upon the following words:
By taking temporary distance from your safe and familiar life by going on a journey alone, you create time and space to observe your life from a fresh perspective. To analyze yourself critically. Who have you become? Reflect on your less attractive traits. It’s never to late to shape yourself. By being alone you will value time spend with your loved ones even more.From: Tim Voors, The Great Alone (2)
Boom! Right on target. The seed was planted to embark on an extraordinary journey. And trekking from Mexico to Canada through the wilderness just seems a perfect fit for me.
This expedition will hopefully guide me to shape ‘the second half’ of my life. I don’t expect miracles. I don’t expect ready-made answers. I don’t plan (yet) to turn my familiar life completely upside down.
But I do hope this journey will help me see more clear what’s really important for me. To understand who I am. Where I want to focus my energies and skills on. And how I can shape my life in a way that avoids having one or more of the ‘top five standard regrets’ when my time has come to leave this planet.
And of course I also hope to have fun, to immerse myself in nature, to bond with true wilderness, to meet and befriend special people, to create wonderful memories. And in the end, to return home safe to my love Lisa.
How does Lisa feel about your adventure?
This is one of the first question often asked.
I answer: “She supports my plan and did so from the beginning. She’s even a fan! That shows she has a great heart. She really knows me and believes that in this phase of my life, it’s the best thing I can do.”
Of course it’s not always easy for her. It’s always harder for the one who stays behind. A journey confronts the one leaving with the new and unexpected.
So I am hugely grateful for her, cheering me on. I take her along with me, in my mind and spirit. And look forward to coming home with a new fresh look on life.
Here, I will share my adventures and what I learn, my misfortunes and hopefully luck.
I hope you will provide a listening ear. So see you around!
1: Quote from the book ‘Norway in the length, 3000 km solo through the Norwegian mountains’ by Myra de Rooy. Link to the publisher
2: Quote from the book ‘The Great Alone’ by Tim Voors. Link to the publisher for the Dutch edition ‘Alleen’. Link to the publisher of the English edition The Great Alone.