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Something to think about

Week 16] Nov 10-Nov 16

Philosophy of Hiking

What makes a good hiker? The best hikers, and the ones who love the sport the most, have learned to feel very comfortable on the trail with them and with the natural environment. This can only happen after you spend a lot of time out there, once the outdoors begin to feel like home. And it doesn't stem from having the right gear, necessarily. It's having the right head--a good attitude, and a positive frame of mind.

Don't fight the trail. You have to flow with it. You can't make a mountain any less steep or an afternoon any cooler or the day any longer, so don't waste your energy complaining. Time and distance and terrain and the trail itself cannot be changed. You have to change yourself. You have to adapt your mind, heart, and soul to the trail. For every five days on the trail, you can expect one day to be uncomfortably wet, one day to be uncomfortably dry, one day to be uncomfortably hot, one day to uncomfortably cold, and one day to be comfortable.

Don't expect nature to respect your manmade comfort level and your desire to control your environment. In our desire to avoid discomfort we may become more uncomfortable. Leave your cultural level of comfort at home. Forget about your material wants. Just concentrate on your physical and spiritual needs. Yes, you can wear one T-shirt the entire journey; you don't have to take showers; you can survive on one hot meal a day; you don't need a roof and walls around you at night. Leave your emotional fan at home as well. Feel free to laugh and to cry, to feel lonely and to feel afraid, to feel socially irresponsible and to feel foolish, and to feel free. Rediscover you childhood. Play the game of the trail. Roll with the punches and learn to laugh in the face of adversity. Be optimistic. Things could always be worse.

Don't become mired in the swamp of sorrow. Some thoughts to have in your head:

Upon reaching the top of the mountain - "Gee, I'm here already."

Upon starting your hike - "It's going to hurt and be hard, but I'm still going to enjoy it."

After your first week in the trail-"Gosh, this isn't as hard as I though it would be."

During your sixth straight of rain-"At least the springs aren't dry."

During your third week of drought-"At least I don't have to put on wet socks in the morning."

During the second straight week of mosquitoes/black flies-"At least they're not wasps."

This all sounds like good advice for our daily lives, doesn't it? That's one of the reasons hiking means so much to us. Trail life teaches us how to live all the other parts of our lives, too. The most important lessons we have learned in life that trail have taught us.

-Excerpt from "A Hiker's Companion, 12,000 Miles of Trail-Tested Wisdom"

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