Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Hiking Life Is A Disciplined Life

"The ultimate challenge. I hiked to give myself time away from the confines of society in which I found myself. Time to think about what I was doing and where I was going in life."

~Adam Ticknor, long-distance hiker.
Quoted in Long-Distance Hiking: Lessons From The Appalachian Trail
by Roland Mueser.

The life of a long distance hiker is a disciplined life. Yes, it's a freer type of existence, allowing one to be away from the everyday pressures of life, such as a job, family, daily chores & decisions of normal life. Yet it requires a keen sense of awareness for many things: rationing of food & water, being mindful of one's health & treating of injuries, an organizational ability regarding the pack & all gear on hand. The scheduling of going from town to town for resupply is an integral aspect of long distance hiking, as well as reading & following maps & guidebooks one carries along the way.

There's an introspection present in most l-d hikers; an ability or strength to go within one's self for the inspiration and focus needed on such endeavors. The outside world can seem a nuisance, a stealer of time & energy to the ldh. The wilderness, with its treelines & forests, mountain peaks & ranges, valleys, streams, lakes, wildlife & fauna provides cleaner, more refreshing entertainment for people as this.

The ldh is not necessarily someone who's abolished society or shirks responsibility; rather, one who places things in different perspective from that of the busy, often ferocious pace of the average individual. The loads these folks carry isn't limited only to the packs strapped on their backs. Many a day is filled with thoughts of loved ones, intentions of making life a little bit better when they return from the current trek.

Problems don't go away once a great journey begins, but many solutions can be attained through the everyday action of hiking. For many of us already hold within the answers to plaguing problems, and for those answers to be extracted from a busy & cluttered mind, one must extract oneself from all that chokes his thoughts & intentions. Guiding oneself through physical terrain is both therapeutic to and revealing of the rocky contour of one's soul.

~The Pilgrim.