About a month ago, the amazing executive director of Warriors Live On asked if I’d join a group of combat Veterans on a 4-day/40 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. She wants to introduce them to yoga, with the intention that it’ll complement their healing process as they walk the trail. I thought it would also relieve tension in the shoulders, back and legs after the walk. So I said yes.
Yes. Of course. And without hesitation.
I was (and remain) humbled and honored by this adventure.
In between then and now, however, I’ve had a few epiphany moments that will sound silly to anyone with actual trail-traveling experience. (That would be anyone, it seems, who is not me.)
I’ve climbed a few mountains in New Zealand, and wandered around trails in California. But, really, I managed those on whims. I didn’t plan. I didn’t read. I just went out and always got back before dark. Maybe shortly after. Then I had a beer. Or a glass of wine. And I put my feet up. That’s what I know about hiking.
When the WLO Director instructed me to get fitted for a pack—generously provided to all the participants by Adventure 16—it dawned on me that trek means something more than hike. I would be transporting my personal survival on my back. Food, water, shelter. Layers. I would be forced to acknowledge that a whole bunch of things that I consider imperative—laptop, phone, almond butter, and about 15 books—were not actually requisite to my existence.
Then I realized that generous as Adventure 16 has been to WLO, they are not providing us with donkeys.
And no one I know volunteered to be my sherpa. (Really? No one?! Sheesh.)
The trek will follow the PCT from Big Bear Lake to Lake Arrowhead. In the morning, before we eat, I hope the Veterans will enjoy moving slowly through some yoga asana with me to prepare our feet, ankles, legs, backs, and shoulders for the 10-mile day. In the evenings, when we’ve settled into our camp, I’ll invite them to move again, and to breathe and notice their energy after the great exertion of pushing the ground beneath us. I hope I can share whatever knowledge I have with clarity and integrity. I hope whatever I can share will be a helpful reminder to each of the Veterans that the study of the self—through asana, trail-wandering, or that mindless state of wonder that both bring—is an elevating pursuit. It serves all of us to look within. May we all be safe and supportive of each other.
I leave tomorrow. My pack slumps against the wall in a state of half-packed anticipation. It doesn’t quite weigh more than I do. Please think kind thoughts for all of us! I’ll report back soon.