Apr 012014


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 people out there are generally hot, tired, hungry, bug bitten, in pain, bored and kind of afraid at the same time. They’re fantasizing about comforts. They miss their cat. I know because I’ve met them. I personally don’t like hiking because I generally don’t like to be in the act of traveling somewhere without a genuine destination. If I’m out walking, I want results. I should be somewhere when I’m done that I was trying to arrive at. I’m the same way with driving. I love an excellent road trip and will take all kinds of non-roads to get to my destination to make it exploratory and exciting. But I would simply NEVER just get in my car and drive in loops about the neighborhood just to drive. But I do like being in incredible places, quite a lot actually, and hiking is frequently the best if not only way to get to them. Also, lots of other people don’t like hiking, so hiking is an easy way to get some much needed space from the general mania of the populace.

But besides those two basics, what would make someone like me pretty much dedicate my life to hiking? Well, I’m gonna say it as cliche as it sounds, hiking IS life. I’m gone. I simply have crossed over the threshold into completely not belonging to the non-hiking world as we know it. I don’t even have a choice about it anymore. It got wayyyyy patterned into my vulnerable nervous system these last few years and as I stand in this moment, I don’t think I can come back. I’ve accepted as fact that it’s a LOT more fun to belong to incredible places in the wilderness than incredible places in civilization and I’ll tell you why. Civilization is an expression of some intelligent and creative ideas from the minds of us, and also an expression of our insecurities and sideways as shit ways of getting what we think we need. There is some serious navigating to do here. I honestly don’t know how we do it. I’m exhausted trying to reintegrate after my Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike. So. Many. People. So. Many. Problems. There are problems in the natural world too. And as I stated earlier, they cause great discomforts and emotional uneasiness. But they are immediate, easy to solve, and miraculously our bodies and minds have evolved to interact with them. This is what we were born knowing how to do! It’s not confusing and doesn’t pull us out of our natural happiness and into a whirlwind mind circus of abstraction in order to deal with. And my experience has been without exception that what already is, what is offered to us from the natural world, is a lot more beautiful, fascinating, and functionally odd than anything our minds could begin to form and express in our created world.

Before I  communicate a perspective of myself as someone who wants to renounce the “world” and grind my own toothpaste from tree bark and snail shells in a mud pit somewhere, I would like to emphatically state that, no, I’m actually reaching for a hybrid existence. I want selectively beaming rays of sunshine, but I also want vanilla soft serve with FD&C Red #5 sprinkles. I want days, weeks, months spent in magnificent places I’m naturally attuned to, that make me smile from my spine, but I also think money is cool and that plastic is nice and durable and that music is a miracle. I want to hike because doing so makes me feel damn good, and most importantly because it brings me to there. It brings me to an easy awe, an easy love of living, an easy way of belonging to life. As an activity it sucks. But as a way of living life, it’s prayer.

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. 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 [...]

10 Things I Immediately Had to Change About Myself Upon My Arrival in Portland, Oregon

10 Things I Immediately Had to Change About Myself Upon My Arrival in Portland, Oregon

I’m here. I love it. And I have that unjustified “home” feeling. It doesn’t seem to matter to my happiness chemistry that I arrived in the midst of a weather-pocalypse. Or that there’s traffic, aggressively attentive homeless people, and train noise. But I don’t know how to be here yet. And here are some of [...]

Vanabonding - The Virgin Voyage

Vanabonding – The Virgin Voyage

First of all, I’m back! Yes, I disappeared for a little while there. Besides dealing with the not insignificant post-PCT soup of emotional/physical/logistical weirdness which I’m sure EVERY hiker goes through to some degree returning from a six month stint in the wilderness, my website had been hacked. I couldn’t get access and all kinds [...]

The PCT Average Letter Home Mad Lib

The PCT Average Letter Home Mad Lib

* For next year’s hikers! This should make communication home a little easier.  The PCT Average Letter Home Mad Lib Dear _______________, (family member or name of friend)   Just arrived at PCT mile ______________  (the __________ point)! It has been so ___________,                         [...]

Debunking the I-Don't-Need-No-Stinking-Man Theory. Again.

Debunking the I-Don’t-Need-No-Stinking-Man Theory. Again.

That’s it. I’ll never say “I don’t need no stinking man” ever again. (Thanks, PCT!) I’ve spent the bulk of my life in defense of a fierce sense of individualism, of self-reliance and independence. It’s been an emotionally infantile position. And I say that because, when I observe others in an intense defense of anything, [...]

Love Letter to a Thru-Hiker's Body

Love Letter to a Thru-Hiker’s Body

Dear Body, I’d like to point out to you that you are absolutely FABULOUS! You walked 2,665 miles in a row.. IN A ROW! Without reprieve.. without healing time. And those weren’t easy miles. It’s not like you were walking on some spongy flat corridor through Hawaii.. No, you were walking through extreme heat, and [...]