It's rather amazing how life can test our resolve. In just about every way, I had my year planned aaddaround one month of adventure on the John Muir Trail. To me, this was going to be more than just a backpacking trip. It was a way to heal myself, not just artistically but emotionally. Over the course of couple weeks, all that became unraveled.
First, the car accident happened. And then the injuries that appeared over the course of the next day. All my gym training was put on hold while I dealt with neck problems and intense headaches that last most of each day. I didn't think it would last for long, but here it is a month later and I'm just now getting back to 100%.
Then the reports of the JMT trail conditions started coming in. The Sierra Nevada's epic snow year wasn't going away. Late season storms were piling on to a slow melting snow pack. Even for a mid-July start, the snow we'd be facing on the passes was going to be tough. With that late melt, that meant dangerous river crossings with a heavy pack and all my camera gear. As each day passed, it was looking more and more like this wasn't the experience I envisioned it to be. It would definitely be a crazy adventure, but not the landscape I had envisioned for years of photographing. It was time to call it off.
When I had finally accepted that I should wait for 2018 to do the JMT, I got news that my beloved 4Runner was being totaled because of the accident. This news hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried like I lost a family member. Owning that truck was a dream of mine since I was young. It took me everywhere I wanted to go. It became my home on the road (and Captain's too). Over those couple years, I poured a lot of time, thought and money into that vehicle. Money I knew I want going to get out of the insurance company. Finding a new vehicle was another hit to world and my wallet.
All these things seemed to happen so quickly. I was processing it but I couldn't comprehend it. I felt like I was treading water. In my months of physical training for the trip, I found what I've been searching for for so many years; solace. I found the key to fighting my depression and anxiety came in the form of intense workouts and working towards a big goal. Without being able to train, my new reality was quickly fleeting. I was really afraid the summer depression I deal with every year was coming back with a vengeance. One of my main motivations for this trip was to make sure that didn't happen this year. I had some really rough days there but made it through with the support of friends and family.
All in all, I'm now looking at all this as a gift. I was looking for a way to shake up the predictability of my life. I got it. Just in a different way than I planned. A new 2017 has been born. One that brings with it a chance to attend (and photograph) one of my closest friend's wedding. One that brought a new adventure vehicle into my life. One that gives me the opportunity to grow and learn from all of this obstacle. One where I won't have to leave my dog for a whole month. Some of you know that was going to be one of my biggest challenges.
More than anything, I'm thankful to be healthy again. I'm looking ahead with a renewed outlook. There's no John Muir Trail this year but so many open roads ahead. And I'm sure a few of them will be dirt. :)