Aug 202014


     Long distance hiking adventure season is rolling to a close in the United States.  The hikers whose blogs you’ve been following are just starting to arrive at their destinations and post photos of themselves at their respective terminus’ jumping into the air and crying and hugging the monument markers. They look skinny and bedraggled and you can’t imagine what they’ve been through. It tears you up a little bit, doesn’t it?

     Well, it’s a trick. They haven’t been through any more of an adventure in the last five months than you have, rolling across the terrain of your own life. I’m not trying to demean an adventure traveler’s experiences or accomplishments, I’m just making the point that you had just as much fun this morning meeting friends for coffee before work. You got as genuinely close to the Divine in life when you felt the first sprays of hot water from your morning shower. You overcame the same tests of strength and endurance when you did 12 pushups from your former record of eight. In the last 5 months, you’ve met incredible people, and you’ve lost some. You’ve had to push through extreme overwhelm and exhaustion to get through a day. You went somewhere you’ve never been before and you’ve beheld the miracle of the animal world when your neighbor’s dog had puppies. You’ve cried or wanted to at least once.

     You don’t need to go anywhere.

     As a matter of fact, when you do go somewhere, you have to spend an enormous amount of energy just getting to a baseline of okay-ness, orienting yourself well enough that your survival instincts shut up and let you even begin to think about the more abstract things like who you are and what your mission in life is, let alone trying to establish any kind of rich spiritual life. No one is evolving rapidly in their life or in their self development any more than you are by doing extreme things like walking a long distance trail. I assert we may even be delaying it a bit. We are looking for water, and a way to recover from shin splints, and for a person that will listen to us speak for a moment so that we can feel some relationship. What makes an endeavor like long distance hiking seem so adventurous and rich in experiences is because it gives you the opportunity to be acutely sensitive to yourself and your surroundings. It puts you in participator mode, scintillates you, so that you really take in your experiences. Of course I will enjoy and value someone I’ve met on the trail more than someone I meet in the city, but it’s not because they are a more exotic or interesting person, it’s because I’m primed to embrace the occasion. I’m on full alert, and I’ve taken the time to remove myself from my routines and be open to them.  Really exotic and interesting people pass by me every single day as I go about my business at home. I won’t talk to them, generally speaking, but I could. There are absolutely stunning landscapes within 30 miles of right from where I sit this very second. As a matter of fact, my neighbor’s rose garden doesn’t seem like it could even be real its so beautiful. I’m not always looking at it. But I could.

     Right now, where you sit reading this blog post, you have very real and interesting challenges to overcome. You have beautiful people in your life and people you want to get rid of. You are immersed in an environment that offers exotic things to see and engage with. You could do one thing differently and grow as a person. Scintillate yourself. Be primed to embrace the occasion of the life you stand in. You don’t need to go anywhere. It’s a trick.


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. ( ~ 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, 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. 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 [...]