What do you do the summer after the Pacific Crest Trail when your partner headed east to hike the Appalachian Trail without you? This is a question I’ve gotten a lot in the last few weeks. After four months of updates on her progress the people in my daily life really understand that Lauren has been gone for 4 months and it has an impact. I thought I would try and explain some of what happens in this short post.
Steps for dealing with an important person missing in your (my) life:
First you cry yourself to sleep for a week in a seemingly empty bedroom without your best friend and most important person in your daily life.
Second, you write lots of love letters, more than you have in years. These letters go into resupply boxes along with tuna packets and nuts. The letters increase in meaning as you assess your relationship and your life without that person.
Third, you start to dabble and explore things that are really important to you as a person. Not necessarily things that are important in a relationship but the things that are really important to making you feel alive, enriched and your best self.
Fourth, you discover that due to the change in your love language and relationship schedule there is additional time for these explorations because your first priority, your relationship, has a different rhythm to it than before your partner’s disappearance.
Five, you binge on identified activities of personal fulfillment. This is also a form of filling time with positive things to fill the void in your life. It is also a great way to fill time so you don’t feel so alone in an empty house on the weekends. In my case that meant skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, and Alpine climbing every weekend possible for the past 4 months. I won’t bore you with trip reports but hero photos:
- Idaho, Stevens Peak North Face
- Washington, Enchantments Traverse
- Washington, Dragon tail Triple Couloir
- Montana, Trapper Peak
- Washington, Mt Rainier Fuhrer Finger
- Virginia, Appalachian Trail Segment
- Washington, Mt Rainier Gibraltar Ledges
- Washington, Mt Baker North Ridge
- Oregon, Three Sisters Traverse
- Washington, Sequim Klahhane Ridge
- Washington, Mt Stuart North Ridge
- Montana, Mt Sentinel
- Idaho, Harrison Peak
- Idaho, Selkirk High Traverse
- Alberta BC, Mt Temple East Ridge
Sixth, I hope the photos above illustrate the depth of this situation. Not many people go on a binge like this without some emotional gap in their lives they are trying to obscure. I am so grateful to have such amazing friends to help me through this emotional journey this summer!
Seven, you eagerly anticipate the return of your partner and start to make plans for reunification. This includes scrambling to finish summer projects. Cleaning the house. Reading the stack of newspapers your partner reminds you to finish. Etc.
Eight, After the reunification it is time to celebrate, embrace, renegotiate relationship, love language, schedules, priorities and share new dreams with partner… That’s an update for another post.
Thank You to family and friends who were so incredibly supportive through this summer! Although Lauren and I have bonded through this experience it was hard to be apart for this long. I found support in community and mountains. I’m so excited to see Lauren on August 11!!!