Friday, June 2, 2017

Back On The Hike Again: Not The End Of The Journey

If you ever decide to do this thing, you will probably be like me, looking at enjoying some backpacking without ever being able to do this one great achievement: hike the whole AT in one year. Paul, has been at this, doing section by section on summer vacations for over 12 years. He is what is known as a Long-Ass-Section-Hiker. He has seen some of the best parts of the AT, but will never know the feeling that one must get hiking over 2000 miles in one summer. But....he and I both know that our journey continues, because as long as there are sections that he hasn't covered, we have some hiking to do. Hikers often refer to the mental aspect of the trip, which seems strange at first, I mean, all you do is grab a pack and put one foot in front of the other, what's so mental about that? This isn't climbing Mount Everest or some other herculean feat. The mental part is the part that keeps you going when your body starts questioning why you ever wanted to do it in the first place. Mentally, I am very prepared for this, in fact, I have this argument with myself almost ever single morning while running. "Who cares if you finish today? Let's just stop here at 7-Eleven and get a donut!" Yes, I deal with mental issues every morning, so the trail held nothing new there for me. For me, the really big surprise was that it all seemed like the Wizard of Oz. We were on some kind of quest and everyone we met along the way had a little bit of something to add to our knowledge needed to complete our quest. For me, a big part of my quest was to find out how I could learn to sleep at night while backpacking. Paul's quest was to find the world's lightest backpack. As I look back at our journey, I realize that it truly was the people along the way that made it the adventure we had hoped for.
Paul remarked more than once, that backpacking was one of the few times in life where he was totally there in the moment, not multi-tasking or thinking about what he had to do the next day. He was right, my brain that usually has a million things going on, even while running, was merely thinking about how good that banana was, or dipping my shirt in the next stream. We were down to the very basic needs, and one thing I really liked was that every single thing I had to worry about was in one little backpack. Life was simple for a minute, and the rest of the world could take care of itself.
At one point I saw that the whole trail is just a metaphor for life and that whether or not we get to Maine at some point is way less important than our interactions with each other. I was starting to feel like I might be really approaching enlightenment on this trip.
Paul then remarked that sleeping in the 30 degree chill last night was the best sleep he'd ever had...ever. It was probably the new air pillow he had just purchased at the outfitter store. Yes, there is nothing like a good night's sleep in the great outdoors....I slowly unclenched my fist and practiced deep breathing until enlightenment returned....

No comments:

Post a Comment