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[pct-l] Love on the trai
I find really interesting that "love" is not a regular topic on the
listserv. So many hikers start the trail with a basic need for sociality -
hanging with others - that the "solo" hiker is really an oddity. I think
that it is the solo hiker that is most ready, and most seeking of "love."
Read the journals of thru-hikers and you'll see a pattern that affirms we
are a social species, that we need contact with others to create meaning in
our lives. Being alone on the trail is a daunting prospect . We scurry
around at home putting togehter the "Trip." Yet, if you go to the journal
archives you'll see there is not one account of a thru-hike that wasn't
social. Not one.. There is not one journal chronicling what it's like to
be alone for five months. Not one thruhiker has cast themselves as a
hero... There is not one account of a thru-hiker who eschewed sociality,
who had the hootspah/depth to hike day-by-day without seeking and finding
connection with another person.
I met a fellow who had no sense of his contibution to thru-hiker lore. I
met him around Dorothy Lake. He was a Jardine devotee, and didn't know
there was a controversy about Jardine's hiking style. He started a month
late, and was about to catch the pack. He was 40 years old and had adopted
the Jardine way 100%. He actually said that he didn't hike any faster than
anyone else. He hiked for more hours. He was walking 30 mile days, each,
and every day.
I saw one of his stealth camps, and it was awful. He stirred up the duff
underneath a tree and didn't try to rectify his impact. He was on the
trail... His version of a stealth camp was a bit out of control.
When a person is in his/her 20s, emotions" always" determine mileage. I
read the journals and if a person is honest, unfettered, unbridled,and
undampend, emotions rule. You don't often see this in the onlne journals.
It's not difficult to do 20 miles a day. It really isn't. What's difficult
is doing 20 miles a day six days a week for five months and not freaking
It's a good thing to freak out. The hard thing to do is just to continue
hiking, day to day, hour by hour, moment by moment - and continue to "freak
I'm damed conscious of what I'm doing... I'm fucking freaking
out...!!!!!!!!!!!! This is what drives us from the trail, from the "Trip."
I'm too damn conscious and it hurts too damn much! I can't handle freakiing
out. I got to leave and bury myself in the unconsciousness of living day to
day by other norms than the trail...
When I hike day after day, my emotions are rampant, wild, unfettered,
dangerous and really, really scary. I can't stand being alone. Yet this is
the ultimate challenge. Can I hike the trail alone? Can I spend five
months alone? The pain is so exquisite, so intense, so "present."
The answer for most of us is, "No, I can't hike the trail alone." I need
the warmth of human companship, the opportunity to say how I feel, how much
I hurt, and to find commiserating eyes that validate my experience of hiking
I'm freaking and you're freaking, and in our shared freaking, we are ok...
The 20 something person going through this is preparing her/himself for
love. There is no better lover/partner than someone who has gone through
the trials and tribulations of being alone on a thur hike. No better...
Laramie, where winter threatens and spits...