Jul 312014
 
Who ARE these people?

Who ARE these people?

What if you could walk into a bare room that would be full of the next 20 most important people to enter your life and they would all be naked, without adornment, without any visual or contextual clues whatsoever as to who the hell these people are and where they have come from in life. You would be forced to meet them without any subconscious pre-judgments, any file to slot them into in the people organization parts of your brain. You’d have to let them talk. Or you’d have no idea who they are.

This is how meeting people on a long trail is. No, they’re not naked. But they are all more or less in the same appropriate costume. They are all dirty and stinky, regardless of socio-economic status. They’re all eating junk food. They’re all cursing without reserve. And  it takes awhile for a newly met person to ask, “What do you do?”. It seems like a silly question out there. Clearly, you walk. More likely, newly met people are asked when they started, or about their experiences over the high passes, or what the story is behind their trail name. Nothing else is relevant except the shared experience of the trail. And that’s how you get to know them.

As I get further and further away from my experiences on long trails and assimilate myself back into the normal world, I am noticing some residual habits developed during that time, and this is one. This is how I have grooved my perceptual habits to meet and interact with people. It doesn’t occur to me still to try to figure out their place in society, where they work, what religion they adhere to, or even if they are married and have kids. It’s just a “hello” and “hey what are we doing” kind of thing. And I am surprised when an attempt to comprehend my place is made. I am learning crazy amounts about my past habits of culture that I’ve always thought I was way too enlightened to perpetuate. If approaching people without judgment, without even a desire to judge or decide anything about them at all based on anything other than the present moment, is something I can be trained out of in just a few short years from a lifetime of habit, I daresay it’s our naturally preferable way to be, the “factory settings” we’re born with. Yes, common cause unites, and the trail provided us with that. But “nakedness” also unites and provides the anonymity required to suspend judgment and face new people openly.

 

50 Things That Qualify as Porn When You've Been in the Wilderness Way Too Long

50 Things That Qualify as Porn When You’ve Been in the Wilderness Way Too Long

PORN: n. Media that is regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience. (Dictionary.com) ~ or revised ~ PORN: n. Media  Any media, object, person, or sheer mention of something that is regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a [...]

It's A Problem to Solve - Another Enduring Trailism

It’s A Problem to Solve – Another Enduring Trailism

The thing about most dire situations is that you don’t realize they are dire until you’re standing smack in the center of the them. For example, when I left Kennedy Meadows to begin the Sierra segment of the Pacific Crest Trail last year, I was feeling a bit achy, a bit tired, and was having [...]

Top 20 Uses for Dollar Store Flip Flops on Your Next Long Distance Hike

Top 20 Uses for Dollar Store Flip Flops on Your Next Long Distance Hike

Dollar store flip-flops are, well, a dollar. And every town with more than 35 people in it has a dollar store. What that means to me is that I have a somewhat destructible ultralight piece of gear that I can easily replace on a long distance hike without the expense and peskiness of having to [...]

Letting Go of the Need to Feel Good, an Enduring Gift

Letting Go of the Need to Feel Good, an Enduring Gift

Thru-hikers are masochists. They have to be. What other personality trait could coerce them into thinking it’s actually preferable to spend 5 months more or less in a constant condition of suffering when they could, easily, instead choose to be cradled in a society wholly created to foster an illusion of non-stop comfort with bouts of occasional [...]

Dromomania

Dromomania

“Dromomania, also traveling fugue, is an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander. People with this condition spontaneously depart from their routine, travel long distances and take up different identities and occupations. Months may pass before they return to their former identities.” Wikipedia “True dromomaniacs are obsessed with travel and are always planning their next trip or [...]

I Don't Like Hiking

I Don’t Like Hiking

Hiking sucks.  And the only thing worse than hiking is camping. There’s way too much romanticizing done about both of them, as if ANYONE is out there with rays of sunlight beaming selectively through the trees at them, blissing out on birdsong and silence, thinking important philosophical thoughts and “communing” with nature. They’re not. The [...]

What Exactly Is a "Bonus Round" in Life?

What Exactly Is a “Bonus Round” in Life?

Anyone who’s been in a situation, medical or otherwise, that’s nearly killed them, will slip automatically into “bonus round” mode in life. It’s an orientation impelled from the deepest recesses of the soul where near-death lies. It’s a gift really. And somewhat makes up for the suffering in the “nearly dying” part. For those who [...]

DO NOT. SEND YOURSELVES. OATMEAL.

DO NOT. SEND YOURSELVES. OATMEAL.

DO NOT. SEND YOURSELVES. OATMEAL. It’s the richest piece of thru-hiker hopeful advice I think I have ever read. It was posted on the “PCT Class of 2014″ facebook page by one of the realest, funniest, most perceptive, and inspiring thru-hikers from 2013 I’ve heard tell of. Her name is Carrot Quinn and she can [...]

My Notes on Post Trail Depression

My Notes on Post Trail Depression

It’s expected. It’s written about, talked about, advised about.. lamented to anyone who would understand (ie:other hikers) .. When you do a long trail, word is you’re going to suffer a bit after you return home. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does to enough people that I would classify it as a genuine [...]