About the Author: Hi there, my name is “Z”, I am a queer solo female hiker from California. I run around the local ER as a nurse a few days a week. I love rock-climbing, bouldering, nerding out on DuoLingo, and being a crazy cat lady of one. I believe outside is for everyone, and I am passionate about making the wild an inclusive place for all. You can see what I’m up to on Instagram @The_Wandering_Z.
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It's Not You, It's The Trail: A Breakup Story
My partner broke up with me the day before their thru-hike.
And 14 days before mine
Yeah. That happened.
Over the phone.
That was the last thing they said to me.
I hung up.
And I crumbled to the floor.
My forehead pressed against my teal flower rug.
Tears rushing down my face.
Running as fast as they could from my hard-pressed eyes.
I am ugly crying.
My patio door is open, so I’m certain my neighbors heard everything.
There goes my title as the invisible neighbor.
Nope, its not just that tuxedo cat that lives there.
Broken girl lives there too.
I sleep in a dreamless pause.
And then the freaking morning comes.
I lay on my couch.
Zoning out on my backpack.
It sits there. Fully packed.
My Garmin looking sad just hanging off the shoulder strap.
What are we gonna do” it asks.
Now the empowered feminine in me wants to throw two middle fingers in the air
Sasche’ to the airport
And hike something FIERCE
With all the strength
And “I am woman hear me roar!” spirit.
But I would be lying to you.
That’s not what all of me wants
No, there’s a part I don’t want to admit is there.
I’d love to deny it.
But the truth is the other half of me wants to find an excuse not to go.
That something unexpected would happen and blow my budget so I couldn’t go on my hike.
I judge this part of me as being small and weak.
But she’s there. I’m her.
And I want to put that red backpack in the closet
And lay on the floor
And beat my chest
Because someone left me and that makes me feel small
The longer I stare at Ruby there on the floor
The stronger I get the urge to get the hell out of here.
Go out of town
Out of state
And then it hits me.
That’s what happened.
That’s what my partner did.
They packed their Granite Gear backpack
Complete with my other orange trekking pole
Broke up with me the day before they left
And escaped the breakup.
Skipped right to the adventure part with a whole lot of distance between us.
It’s now T-minus 8 days before I leave for the AT.
I didn’t get to skip all the crappy parts of a breakup:
Like this morning when the bagel shop asked me if I was getting their bagel too
Or that awkward moment at work when someone asked me if my boyfriend was going to meet up with me on my hike…
Like they did the last time.
I didn’t get to skip that phone call with my mom where my voice shook
“I..um.. actually don’t know how he’s doing mom, he broke up with me”
I stayed and dealt with it.
I questioned whether my desire to hike on my own is something to be sorry about.
I took all the photos out of their frames.
I snuck in a therapy session
I went to Breathwork
I’m not escaping.
My heart doesn’t feel ultralight
But I will carry it.
What a beautiful and poignant post. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I really felt that last line. I feel like so many hikers experience some variation of heartbreak on the trails and you just perfectly put it into words. Thank you and happy hiking!
wow. this hits home for me. i’ve also dated a piece of shit like that before, and while our experiences aren’t the exact same i’m sure, i feel a bond of sisterhood over the act of rising above people that don’t deserve our time. beautifully written, and ever so inspiring. thank you for sharing this, trail sister. cheers!
Dude, thanks for reading/listening to my story. I am sorry that I am not the only one to experience something like this. I feel you on the solidarity of rising above. As women in the wilderness it feels like a continual uphill sometimes. Sisterhood is important and it feels really kind. Thanks girl!