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[at-l] re: poems / why we hike

just received this from bill o'brien.  it is from the introduction to
Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck.  and it comes closest to describing
some of my own feelings.  i've taken the liberty of editing it for the
thruhiking experience.

one of these days, i'll try myself...


On The Personality Of A Journey

when i was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, i was
assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.  when years
described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age.  in middle
age i was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that i am
fifty eight perhaps senility will do the job.  nothing has worked.  in
other words, i don't improve; in further words, once a thruhiker, always a
thruhiker.  i fear the disease is incurable.  i set this matter down not to
instruct others but to inform myself.

when the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man,
and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim
must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going.  this to
the practical thruhiker is not difficult,  he has a built in garden of
reasons to choose from.  next he must plan his trip in time and space,
choose a direction and a destination.  and last he must implement the
journey.  how to go, what to take, how long to stay.  this part of the
process is invariable and immortal.  i set it down only that newcomers to
thruhikerdom, like teen-agers in new-hatched sin, will not think they
invented it.

once a journey is designed, equipped and put in process, a new factor
enters and takes over.  a trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity,
different from all other journeys.  it has personality, temperament,
individuality, uniqueness.  a journey is a person in itself; no two are
alike.  and all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless.  we
find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
guide books, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash
themselves to wreckages on the personality of the trip.  only when this is
recognized can the blown-in-the-glass thruhiker relax and go along with it.
 only then do the frustrations fall away.  in this a journey is like
marriage.  the certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.  i feel
better now, having said this, although only those who have experienced it
will understand.

 .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
/ \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \  / \
   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \/   \

Michael Henderson		mikeh@royalrobbins.com

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. 
	- Helen Keller
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