Two nights ago I had my first stress dream about the PCT. Like the kind of dream you have leading up to the first day of school or before you start a new job.
The dream started as we were on our way to the airport. Whoever was driving wanted to check out our itinerary so I pulled it out and looked at it and was shocked to see it was a mess. In classic dream format there were about fifty different flights we needed to catch to make it to the PCT. We had already missed half of them, some of them had us flying at different times, others were months away. Somehow we got to the trail head and we started hiking. It was great! Until we met up with some people hiking the other direction and while I was talking to them I realized I wasn’t wearing any shoes. WHERE WERE MY SHOES?!?! I frantically ripped off my pack and peered inside. Sigh of relief, they were in there. I pulled them out and put them on and then glanced back inside my pack. I was horrified. There was nothing else in there except my clothes. I had left everything, my food, my tent, my sleeping pad, everything at home. What the heck was I going to do? I could turn around and go back, I could keep hiking… I kept walking and ended up at this weird intersection in the trail. It looked like the inside of a pantry. There were shelves with lots of canned goods. Two signs on the wall pointed the way into a nearby town and the other pointed the direction the PCT went. My dream-brain knew that if I went into town now I was done. But if I kept going to the next town (where my parents were obviously shipping the rest of my stuff) it was going to be hard. I was going to have to build shelters every night. I was going to have to sleep in all of my clothes to keep warm. I was going to have to carry a bunch of these canned goods (all of which had pop lids, thankfully). I took a deep breath and decided to keep going. Cut to the next scene, I am building a shelter out of cedar boughs.
I woke up from this dream in shock. I am used to stress dreams. They don’t bother me. I heard somewhere, a long time ago, that dreams actually help us prepare for daily life. That if you dream about your math test that is actually your brain thinking about and continuing to practice for your math test. When I stress dream about the restaurant I think that is just my brain helping me to be better at my job in waking life. So the fact that I would have a stress dream about the PCT just lets me know my brain is being vigilant and proactive about all the things we need to remember and be prepared for. I don’t mind a good stress dream. So that isn’t what shocked me about this dream.
The thing that I have been the most nervous about with this trail is that something will prevent us from finishing. That we won’t be able to hike the miles or someone will hurt themselves. This dream seemed to be taking my deepest fears that I am trying to face right now and putting them front and center. And in the dream, when faced with a situation that would probably drive most people off trail my dream-trail-self chose to keep walking. It is as if my brain is preparing me to make those hard decisions and to say yes to “Should we keep going?” Thanks brain.