PJF Trail: The Trail’s End?

So tomorrow is my 45th birthday, and if you have been reading for a while and keeping track of my goals (because you have nothing better to do with your life, and let’s face it, I am fascinating), you may recall my first post about the Peaceful Joyful Free Trail in which I set the goal of walking 1100 miles by my 45th birthday.  Did I do it?

No.  But you know what I did do?  I walked 325 miles.  I figure that’s about double what I might have walked in that time frame if I hadn’t set the goal.  Plus, I’m not stopping.

This date might technically be the end of the road, but I’ve decided to just change the goal.  Because this is what we do in life.  We set a goal, work toward it, and sometimes we reach it, sometimes we don’t.  Sometimes it becomes clear that the goal wasn’t the goal for us.  Sometimes life intervenes and slows us down.  I’ve decided this was, in fact, a worthwhile goal for me, with perhaps an unrealistic timeline.  Maybe it will take me three years to do what Cheryl Strayed did in three months, and that’s okay..

View from The Pinnacles.
View from The Pinnacles.

In that spirit, I got a little closer to another part of my goal, which was to walk all of the trails in the Columbia area.  I didn’t quite reach that one either, but I did do about half, and I did the best half I think.  Turns out a lot of the “trails” are “pedways” which is just a fancy word for sidewalk, many of them along busy streets and not at all Zen inducing.

Yesterday a friend and I decided to go hiking at a place near my home called The Pinnacles.  Neither of us had ever been, and it seemed like a cool thing to do on a beautiful autumn day.  After the first stretch, which included a section called “Heart Attack Hill,” I surmised this to be more of a rock climbing expedition than a hike.  I think we did a couple miles, a lot of it straight UP.

You're giving me a heart attack.
You’re giving me a heart attack.

I confessed about midway that if I’d known at the start how challenging this was going to be, I would not have started.  But I was so very glad I didn’t know and started anyway.  How many situations in life are like that?  Plus it was something I could not have done if I hadn’t walked 300 miles in the past year.

There's a hole in that there rock.
There’s a hole in that there rock.

Here is a picture of one of the neatest limestone formations we climbed.  There were several holes through the rocks, formed by creeks on either side over many years.  Parts of the trail were gently sloping, and parts of it caused me to say at one point, “You keep using that word ‘trail,’ and I don’t think you know what it means.”

I can honestly say this was the portion of my journey so far that probably most closely resembled what Ms. Strayed went through on the Pacific Crest Trail.  I mean, for a much shorter distance, and without a 70 pound pack on my back, of course.  There are stories of many injuries, and even two deaths, on this hiking trail.  We met many people along the way, and at each point we’d all ask each other whether it was truly possible to reach the other side, then we’d question the sanity of all involved.

At the top of the world!
At the top of the world!

At any rate, we hiked/climbed for about an hour and a half, and we did reach the top, and it was worth it.  Then we made it back to civilization.  I may or may not have kissed my car in the parking lot.

Happy trails to you!