Pre-hike brain dribble

It’s been 8 years since I made my first steps as a long distance hiker. I never thought it would become my identity the way it has, an obsession, a longing, a need. I need it to be happy, to feel worthwhile, and purposeful. The wilderness is the only place where things make sense to me. 

“What are you going to do when you can’t hike?” my Dad asks. The thought makes me uneasy.

I fail at navigating a sensory-overloaded human world, it exhausts me. I’m fucking weird and Mother Nature Don’t Care. I just learned at 32 that “I’m on the spectrum.” This diagnosis is a relief, but it also leaves me feeling scared that I will forever fail at navigating the human world, when I have to go back to it. I have to make money, have friends, fall in love, etc. What if I never have my own house? Health insurance? A partner? Long lasting friendships? I do have one very close long time friend. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, but since I’m transient, I don’t see her as much as I’d like to. 

So I’m off to the desert again to see my lizard, coyote, and cacti friends, to sleep with the scorpions on a bed of sweet burnt dusty sand beneath stars blinding bright. 

23 thoughts on “Pre-hike brain dribble”

  1. I’ll be careful here because I don’t pretend to grasp your experience. I do however, have compassion, and I’ve worked with a few people personally and professionally, with all kinds of challenges. In fact, if you refer to the autistic spectrum I know two who are as well, one of whom succeeded in a major way, to learn to overcome all the attributes. Another thing that came to mind while reading your post is that one cannot assume you will need or even want to navigate the human world, go back to it, make money, fall in love, have your own house, a partner or long lasting friendships. The only things you mentioned that are vital are health insurance, which could be universal in a few years, and friendships and friendships seem to be plausible if you work like my friend Scot did at it. Life does have a habit of surprising us when we’re open to it. Namaste.

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    1. These thoughts are uncannily the exact thoughts I’ve had rattling around lately. 32, on the spectrum, about to graduate college for the first time in a month. Instead of going straight to PA school I’m running off to bum around in the mountains cause that’s all I’m good at & the real world feels like it’s becoming less real with each passing year (or news cycle).

      Trust that you’re doing what makes you happy, and that truly that’s all that’s real. Whatever comes next is just happenstance anyway. Making plans, even hiking plans feels like an exertion of control on stuff, which more often than not winds up showing us what’s really doing the controlling.

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  2. I’ve never reached out to you on your blog before, but I’ve been a reader for a couple of years. I’m a friend of Twinkle’s and we actually sat at the same table during dinner at his wedding. I wish I had had the courage to introduce myself that night and especially to introduce my 10-year-old daughter, Paige, to you. I told her about your blog that evening and how I much I admired your tenacity and strength. I admire you even more now, for simply knowing where your heart lives–some people spend their entire lives trying to figure that out and here you’ve known it for 8 already. You may characterize yourself as “fucking weird,” but I’d say that correlates to being “fucking awesome.” Best wishes to you and I look forward to reading about your future adventures. πŸ™‚

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  3. No need to accept society’s requirements except as and how you want. Let the diagnosis empower you to find alternatives to the everyday life, not limit you to a definition. It may be a tool to understanding yourself better, but is not the whole of your being.

    If you haven’t encountered her already, read Temple Grandin’s writings on how she turned her autism into a professional asset. And then for fun, read C.S.Friedman’s This Alien Shore, where in one of the societies autism wasn’t a deviance, but seen as part of the spectrum of the human condition.

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  4. I just wanted to say that I like the ways that your “weirdness” comes through in your writing. And you seem like the sort of person who knows how to make shit happen. Personally, as a completely unqualified stranger who reads your blog, I’ve got high hopes for you, chica.

    Keep on keepin on.



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  5. Of course, its not easy to deal with, but I would volunteer you already knew there was something going on and now you have answers. Not a bad outcome when you think about it. Whats are you going to do when you ‘can’t hike?’ Just the same in a way. Keep moving through life one step at the time. Because, most of the time that’s the best we can do anyhow. Keep it up, only you knows what right for you.

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  6. Hi, have always enjoyed your posts,thanks for sharing with us. To satisfy your soul,mind, emotions or whatever mix we are could you not get a little cabin,bus or something out in the mountains or by one of the beautiful lakes you have seen with or without others and find a way to pay for your basics. I live in a caravan here in the u.k, after years of struggling to make the rent and utilities in a town. A couple of months work in a small town could keep you going for food and necessities in an out of the way place and use solar power for light and charging up an I pad. Even better if you can earn a little via the web. Buying and selling a little on ebay should be able to get through the next ten months o.k.
    Sometimes we all run towards something or away from something thinking this will fix us when that something is inside of us all along. Only when I stopped running/ seeking could I see what that something was and deal with it. You will be o.k whatever your head is telling you. You are the most important and beautiful thing in your life,be kind to yourself, treasure this life. All will be well.

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    1. Ideally, I’d want a cabin or tiny home somewhere quiet! I think that’s totally possible someday πŸ™‚ Thank you for these suggestions! Thank you for your beautiful words, and sharing this!


  7. Chance, I have always considered it a privilege to know you. You are blessed to have these realizations about who you are and super-blessed to be able to act/live the way that satisfies you. Our 4-year-old granddaughter is mild-spectrum and she is a pistol, just like you. If you ever need a little shot of PCT trash you are always welcome in NorCal.

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  8. I’ve been following you for a while now and all I see is an amazing spirit, a fun loving lady and someone who follows her dreams and passions. Nothing weird about that! I’m really looking forward to your next two trails, they sound amazing! Best wishes x

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  9. Hey Chance! I missed this post somehow….

    You are one of the most amazing and loving people that I know. You will go so far in life, just doing what you love. Keep following that. it brought tears to my eyes reading your openly honest post. I think about you every day and wish you strength in all ways as you walk the trail.

    Love you!


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