In the summer of 2013, I embarked on a solo backpacking adventure across Northern Michigan.
With no one to talk to along the way, my journal became a powerful and necessary companion. I wrote journal nearly every day, sometimes many times a day, to capture the events and insights of my time on the trail or to just offload the thoughts from my brain so I could move on. One year later, I reworked those entries as a way to remind myself of that powerful, transformational journey and to share the experience with others. This trip was about taking charge of my life by changing myself rather than my circumstances. It was about making life happen instead of letting it happen to me. It was about independence, exploration, recovery, healing, reconnecting and redefining.
For months before this trip, I lived with an underlying vague notion that I needed to do something, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. I desperately needed to recalibrate my life after a particularly difficult year, disrupted by an emotionally traumatic divorce and a physically traumatic car accident. More than anything, I was trying to force myself to recover from many years fighting an eating disorder. After years of trying every conventional method Western Medicine had to offer, I sought out the oldest form of therapy in the world– time alone in nature.
Due to my bare-minimum research and preparation, I had a very few preconceived notions about what this trip would be like, but I had a long list of goals for how it would change, improve, even “fix” me. Of course, the trip absolutely defied those expectations in ways both wonderful and humbling.
Left of East means so many things. it’s the life I left behind on the east coast, it’s the left-handed alternative course of life, its the left-hand shape of Michigan’s upper peninsula on the map and it’s a 90 degree turn to the left from the East: North.
To anyone who has a clear vision for what they want to be but don’t know how to get there, to anyone who struggles to unearth the purity beneath the endless distractions of daily life, to anyone who has been so desperate to change that they wiped the slate clean and started over, to anyone who wanted to but couldn’t for whatever reason, to anyone who has chosen a life of purpose over comfort, I am writing this to you. I am very grateful to anyone who takes the time to revisit my experiences over those many miles and innumerable steps with me.
Next Entry: Day 1-Sutton’s Bay to Traverse City
This is the first entry in the series.
Enjoying your hike journal. But I too am lost in time as I don’t know when you are where you were. Is dating the journal entries a possibility?
I’m a member of the the NCTA, Chief Noonday Chapter in Kalamazoo MI