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.