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Re: [AT-L] Electronics on the AT

Daniel -

You've asked a couple really good questions -

>But what if...
>(here it comes)
>carrying these things intensifies someone's experience?
>I know you allow for that possibility, but we collectively seem dubious of the
>possibility. I can't help wondering why.

Personally, I would admit the possibility - simply because I was taught that
from an engineering/scientific viewpoint ANYTHING is "possible" - even the
existence of gremlins that cause plane crashes.   But I was also taught that
the "probability" of some things is extremely low.   Possibility and
are two entirely different things.  Personal opinion is that the probability of
even a camera enhancing or intensifying one's hike is EXTREMELY low.  Please
keep in mind that I'm talking about a thruhike here.  And also that I did, I do
and I will use a camera - because while it may not enhance the hike - the
(or at least the pictures) make it possible to recreate and remember the hike
after it's finished.

I come from a background that many people simply won't relate to - I
spent a lot of years practising Zen as a part of my martial arts training.
And studying - and practising - other things that I'd rather not talk about
at this point.  But they were all pointed at the attainment of inner peace -
and to some extent they succeeded.  I've experienced satori several times in
several different contexts - and it's an experience not to be forgotten.  But
in no case was the experience related to or enhanced, aided or intensified by
equipment of any sort - electronic or otherwise.  Electronic equipment, in
requires a mindset that's object specific rather than spiritual - and the two
are simply not compatible.

I think what I just said is that the (relative) silence, simplicity and purity
that I find in nature is a spiritual experience for those who are ready to
accept it.   And that those who are not ready to accept it as such
generally recognize the value in experiencing the natural world.  But
there are also those who have yet to discover that the cry of a hawk,
or the cough of an angry deer, or even the buzzing of a rattlesnake
have an  intrinsic value that's marred by the importation of the sounds
and devices of the world of Man.

Think about it - just in the last few hours the following words have
been posted on this list -

John Newman wrote:
>> I wonder why those who blatantly subject me to their
>>communications gear while on the trail feel that they must constantly be in
>>touch with the 'other world' at all times.  Or at least have the capability of
>>doing so at arm's length.  I go into the 'woods' to be alone and have a quiet
>>time to refelct on who I am, why I am and even IF I am.

Daniel Berlinger wrote:
>>As a musician, one of the lessons taught to me by my teachers was that
>>contrast is of utmost importance. What you *don't* play is at least, if not
>>more, important than what you do play. The woods are the spaces between the
>>notes of my life. I would never try to fill in that space.

Ginny Owen wrote:
>>Serious news (Hurricanes for example) gets passed along the grapevine
>>in an amazingly short time.  The radio is not needed, and it is a distraction
>>from the reality of the trail world.  So, I think that the walkman at least,
>>by splitting you between the two realities, is as unnecesary and
>>distracting as the computer and telephone are.  I love the trail reality -
>>the simplicity, the serenity, the fact that it is life at its most
>>basic - why screw up a good thing?

I think at one time I suggested (and got in trouble for suggesting it) that
those who NEED the "latest" "hi-tech" equipment to make their thruhike
meaningful might best stay at home - or at least do a thorough
re-examination of their reasons for being out there.  And this from
someone who, prior to my thruhike, was a "gearhead".   How soon we
forget!!   Mea culpa, mea culpa!!

At this point, I think I'd make another, different suggestion - that they try
it without the hi-tech stuff  for at least a couple weeks - they can always
have that stuff sent later if they really want it.

That being said - allow me to propose the notion that the ultimate hike or
thruhike, would be one where you carry NO equipment.  And that each piece of
equipment you do carry is a barrier to the ultimate growth and spiritual
experience that the hike COULD provide.  Yeah - I'm talking about a hike with
no tent, no pack, no sleeping bag, no stove, etc.   And yes, I realize that
it would
NOT be a pleasant or comfortable experience  - most of the time for some people
and some of the time for most people.  But I also realize that growth is rarely
a  pleasant or comfortable experience for any of us.  And it IS and interesting
concept.   And NO - I'm not ready to do it either.

I realize that a lot of people at least start the AT with no concept or
that it might be a growth process or spiritual in ay way.   I've also expressed
the opinion that a lot of people get off the AT when they find themselves
changing/growing in ways they hadn't planned, can't control and don't want.

>The problem doesn't appear to be technology, but inviting the "other world"
>onto the trail that is the root of the more extreme reaction phones and pagers
>seem to elicit.

As long as you asked - let me also propose that we humans (at least here in
the US), have made a world that's increasingly Big Brotherish.  And that some
of us hike or hunt or whatever in order to get away from that world and at
least temporarily regain some degree of control over our lives and - dare  I
say it - our souls.   I'm repeating myself here - it's a form of spiritual
experience.  (Notice, please, that I did NOT say "religious" experience -
that's different).

The importation of the "other world" into the trail world is a violation of
what some of us go out there for.  And those who violate the sanctity and
purity of our experience violate us personally on a spiritual level.   One
to keep in mind here is that many of them don't understand - and don't even
know that they don't understand.   I wouldn't suggest stomping their pagers
with your size 11 EEE boots.  That just gets you a reputation.  But to be
honest, sometimes it takes something like that to make some people realize
that their right to have that pager or cell phone or whatever doesn't mean
they have the right to destroy your privacy and serenity - by making a cell
phone call from the top of Katahdin.   Sorry, Daniel - I couldn't resist
that one
cause that picture (in the ATN) irritated me more than I care to admit.

In any case, I've rambled far longer than I should have - and I'm not sure I've
said anything worth saying.  But there it is.  And it's time for me to get out
of here and go get my lady.  We're supposed to hike this weekend, but we
might have to swim the trail instead.  Y'all have a good weekend.

And walk softly on those overflowing streams,