"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." - Anonymous
While I’m normally not the type to adorn my phone’s case with a “skin” to make it more colorful, interesting, or thought-provoking, when I ran across the above quote I impulsively clicked “buy”. I’m happy to have found the perfect daily mantra both while hiking and in the front-country.
Here are 2 moments, out of many, that took my breath away in 2013, when I became a long distance backpacker on the Appalachian Trail:
I’ve always liked my first name, and a big part of that was that it is seemingly so unique – I can count on 1 hand the number of other “Renee”s I’ve met over the years. In long distance backpacking there is also the well-loved tradition of having a unique trail name bestowed upon you, this time not of your parents’ whim but rather your fellow hikers, your community. It’s amazing for me to recall the moment on the AT that I realized I was utterly comfortable responding as “Pathfinder” instead of “Renee”.
Inevitably everyone asks the story of your trail name, so it seems fitting to describe the beginning of my Pathfinder story in my “about” page: At the end of August 2011, I acquired my trail name on an orienteering cross-country backpacking course in the gorgeous southern San Juan Mts near Pagosa Springs, CO – of which almost the entire trip consisted of breath-taking moments. The rest of the group observed me seeking and searching out the best animal traces and paths to get through the maze of gamble oak and jumping cactus, and the rest, as they say, is history! Stacy, Meredith, Roberta, and Holly, I’ll always remember our “shade to shade!” motto amidst the blazing sun at 8000 feet, the soaring Ponderosa pines, and the perfect Colorado blue sky.
My great coworkers from the Mood Disorders Program as part of their send off coined the phrase “Follow Your Path” – a play on my trail name, and their support of me going out to follow a dream of mine, unconventional as it is, but the path I want to take in life. I’ll always treasure the watch they gave me with Follow Your Path engraved.