Nearly thirty years have passed since I reluctantly handed my sky blue backpack over to a big burly man who tucked it into a cardboard box and loaded that box onto a moving truck. My backpack would remain nestled amidst other boxes that contained what few things I owned for a two-day trip to . As the lumbering door on the back of the truck slid down to close my belongings in darkness, I recalled the months I’d just spent trekking mountain paths, high in the Colorado Rockies. There was so much I had learned. So much I had felt. There was a story that had been woven around me that, even then, I hoped I would share one day with others.
In 1984, I spent the summer with a friend, backpacking through the mountains of . I captured the sights, sounds and experiences of the trip in words I penned each night on the pages of small notebooks. At the time, I didn’t consider that one day those musings might evolve into a book. I only knew that it was important to write then. There was something to learn from the experience of the trip that was far greater than I could grasp as the miles of hiking unfolded before me during those months.
Later, I put my writings aside in a box and went about living my life. Not long ago, I rediscovered my notebooks. As I was rereading my own story, I retraced the steps I had taken for three months in the backcountry. As I read, I found myself walking those trails again with a new perspective.
We all want something. Yet how often do we ask ourselves what are we willing to do in order to get what we really want. Rarely do we truly make the effort to get what we claim we want in life. Rarely do we sink deep into our hearts and use our deepest desires for growth to guide us. I wanted to write this book. Yet, I held back so ferociously in allowing this book to come to fruition. Back in 1984, I wanted to hike for the summer, and I was willing to do anything to bring that dream to fruition. The difference is that what I wanted then was for me alone. What I want now is for my words and my journey to add to all of the other amazing stories we each have within us that together create a healing for the collective soul.
Writing this book was often so difficult. Finishing it was harder still. I wrote in fits and starts and at times ran far from myself and away from the person I wanted to be. But the process of writing the story taught me as much as the time I spent on the trail had taught me. I accepted myself as my own teacher. I learned to see me for who I really am. I finally decided who I want to be. Most importantly, I learned that I could also choose who I don’t want to be anymore.
It’s not easy to embrace change. It’s not easy to share ourselves and our own failings and destructive ego traits with the world at large. Still, I knew that even when I had to slow down in the writing process and even when I felt lost in the woods all over again, I hoped there might be someone out there who would pick up this book and find inspiration for his or her own journey within my story. That is still my hope.
I offer my own experience with humility and with the hope that as you walk these trails with me that you, the reader, will tap into the magical essence of your own personal journey, whatever that may be.