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[at-l] Wilderness Pilgrimage

>>Is the word "Retreat" a substitute for the >>word
"Vacation?"  Would a  2,174 
>>mile walk in the woods and up on the ridges count
>>as a "retreat.?"  
Despite my flippant comment (me? sarcastic? Who would
of thunk it!), I seriously view my thru-hikes as a
pilgrimage in the wilderness.

A retreat implies cutting ones self off from society,

A vacation implies pursuit of leisure and nothing

A pilgrimage is going on a journey with a beginning
and an end, a journey of self discovery, a journey
where I am immersed in a a different society.

A thru-hike is more than a vacation..which it is on
some level.

A thru-hike is more than just a retreat..which it is
on some level.

..or an atheletic endeavor

...or camping in the woods.

A thru-hike is all of the above and more. 

Remember the Chaucer quote from the other day? No?

"Life stirs their hearts and tingles in them so,
Then people long on pilgrimage to go,"

And that is how I feel about my treks. They are a
pilgrimage for me.

>From my Colorado Trail journal this year:

"There are many reasons why I go on these long
backpacking trips; the beauty, the simplicity, the
physical challenge. Seeing a distant view. How a hot
meal at the end of a day is so satisfying.  Climbing
to the top of a rise after many   miles of exertion.
All reasons why I hike. But the main reason, the
reason that encompasses all of the above, is that
 these walks are wilderness pilgrimages. Rather than
going to Mecca or Campo Stella I am journeying to
something less tangible.  Katahdin, Manning or Durango
are only end points in the journeys. The real
destination in on the trail  itself. Some of my
fondest memories and experiences have been on these
long walks. If these journeys are my  pilgrimages than
today I was in the cathedral.  On Georgia Pass would
see Mt. Guyot as the dominant peak. Could see
the divide go on and on. It is a sight that confirms
why I go on these wilderness pilgrimages. The sojourns
in  the mountains will be a part of me for a while yet
to come."


ps. a wonderful book to read is "THE ART OF
PILGRIMAGE". I think any long distance hiker would
enjoy it.

The true harvest of my life is intangible.... a little stardust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched