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Re: [pct-l] Non linear hiking the PCT.


Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! First off, I didn't mean to re-copy your entire
message, but in my zeal to reply, I inadvertently answered yes to the
question "Copy the message?" Sorry.

But what I really wanted to say is that I sincerely appreciate your
refreshing point of view. Wilderness is preserved for just those reasons
that you mentioned in your post, to be there to serve as a catalyst for
renewal, spiritual or otherwise. The fact that you made a conscious
decision to alter your well-made plans and hike the PCT in a way that
allowed you to be more open (to your perceptions as well as to the
experiences on the PCT) is great! You were able to make a decision that
probably forever altered the way you look at wilderness, and that added to
your well-being in profound as well as subtle ways.

On Sat, 15 Feb 1997, Ryan Christensen wrote:

> 	Hello to all out there. I have been reading the posts for quite a while
> and decided that it was time for me to pitch in my 2-cents. First let me
> introduce myself. I hiked the PCT from Mexico to Oregon last year. I am
> currently going to Humboldt State University to study Environmental
> Science. My life will never be the same after my PCT experience last year.
> Let me attempt to tell my PCT story. Now really it would take an entire
> book to give my PCT experience justice, the following story is like mearly
> skipping a pebble on the surface of the ocean in comparison the depth of
> experience that lays beneath.
> 	It seems that most of the posts on this list have mainly focused on
> equipment questions and other logistics--- while that is important, it is
> only a means to the end. Last year at this time I was completely involved
> with getting my food and equipment together. I was planning on thru hiking
> the entire trail. My schedule was laid out, my mind set. I started at the
> Mexican border at April 28th with another hiker I met through the
> communicator. We got along great!! We COULD have hiked the whole trail
> together, but after a week of being out there we realized that what we
> really wanted to do was be solo. Looking back I realize that I just needed
> to be self confident enough to hike the trail alone. I love the freedom and
> solitude solo hiking gives.
> 	I had HUGE expectations of what the trail was going to be like and how it
> would change me, but is paled in comparison to the beauty of the PCT
> experience I actually had. Day after day, sunrise, sunset, full moon, half
> moon, new moon. I saw the cycles of the earth turn around and around. I
> felt a part of it. Every day I loved to spiritually feel the land I walked
> through. There where hot, difficult days in So. Cal. but I still loved it.
> My god-- thinking about it now gets me all wound up! The PCT is simply
> awesome. 
> 	I kept up with my schedule so that I could get to Canada on time up until
> I got to Kennedy Meadows. There at the beginning of the High Sierras I was
> overwhelmed in its beauty. I would literally cry and smile in tears. After
> being out in the wilderness so long you emotions and senses develop and
> sharpen. There I realized that my true goals have changed, I wanted to
> enjoy every moment, every day on the trail. I wanted to saunter through
> these mountains, not breeze through. Often I would sit next to the trail
> for a break and would see other tru hikers breeze by me completely unaware
> that I was sitting right next to them. I wanted to open up my senses, I
> wanted to enjoy the present moment--- JUST BE. My ego goals of reaching
> Canada was closing me up to experiences I would have never had.
> 	It was hard to accept this change in plans, all Ray Jardine, and some
> other hikers talk about is making it. To Ray Jardine everything is very
> linear, very dualistic. An example would be his belief in the hapless hiker
> vs. the thru hiker practicing his ideas--- that is highly dualistic. The
> truth is that we are all individuals and do not fit into a neat little
> categories. I heard a saying from another hiker-- "There is only one path
> that goes to Mexico to Canada, yet there are many ways to walk it." The
> truth of that saying rang through my ears as I met more and more hikers.
> Some followed Ray Jardine to the letter, others did what ever they wanted.
> The true test of your experience is it at the end of the day you are
> smiling.
> 	After I decided that I was going to hike the trail any way I wanted I
> experienced freedom in a way I have never experienced before. I was free to
> sit at exquisite alpine meadows and meditate, I was free to look at streams
> for hours, I was free to camp where I wanted, I was free to meet people and
> learn from their experience. I was free to sit at a remote meadow off the
> trail and look at the entire day pass by- I did not get bored for a moment.
> I was free to lay in a circle of trees in an Old Growth forest and watch
> the shadows of a full moon as it shone through the branches change shape on
> the trucks of ancient trees. I did all this and 10,000 things more. It was
> the ultimate experience of my life. I left the trail Sep. 23 to start a job
> I found while hiking the trail as an Outdoor Science Instructor. It was the
> perfect job to have before I started the spring semester at Humboldt State
> University.
> 	As the trail went on I also experienced a spirituality that I had never
> imagined. "trail magic" was happening all around me and in me. I trusted my
> intuition and followed it. Whenever I needed a ride to town, back to the
> trail, or needed anything something would happen. I knew it would. I
> experience beautiful coincidences. One experience I can share was when I
> was buying Orange Juice at Burney Falls. Before I went in to buy it I
> reached into my pack and pulled out a handful of change without counting
> it. I bought it and discovered that it was something like $2.14---- that
> was EXACTLY how much I had pulled out of my bag--- I used no cash- just
> change. Even the clerk was amazed. In honesty I can say that is  minor
> experience in the group of many other such experience. To all who are
> hiking the trail this year--- trail magic is real---- trust it.
> 	I am not trying to say that my way is hiking is the best way to do the
> trail--- because there is no best way to do the trail exept for YOUR way,
> your path. What I am saying is to feel free to be yourself hike the trail
> anyway you want. It is my belief that "The Pacific Crest Trail Hikers
> Handbook" has done allot of good and damage to the PCT hiking experience.
> There is no right or wrong way to hike the trail!!! Now if you plans are to
> reach Canada in one year your range of options are smaller than Non linear
> hiking the trail. Also know that if you get out on the trail and you decide
> that reaching Canada in one year is your goal then there is NO disgrace for
> doing that. Anyone who looks down on you for not thru hiking has their own
> set of ego problems, and unfortunately I met several of those. It seems
> that one of the first questions someone asks you on the trail when you meet
> them is -"where did you start, how far are you going, when did you start"
> Let me say there is whole hell of allot more to hiking the PCT than facts
> and statistics. 
> 	Last year on the trail there was definalty a feeling on the trail that the
> faster you hiked the better you where and the slower you hiked the less
> some people thought of you. I believe from talking to hikers who have hiked
> the PCT before "The Handbook" came out that this is a relatively new
> feeling. The handbook has done allot of harm to the trail hiking experience
> by creating a us/them, slow/fast, hapless/thru hiker, ray way/other way
> paradigm. Again there is no right way to hike the trail-- only your way.
> For some, including myself, faster does not mean better. 
> 	The experience I had on the PCT is absolutely the best experience I have
> ever had in my 23 years of living on this beautiful planet. I am looking
> forward to hiking Oregon- Canada. There is a whole hell of allot more to my
> PCT story than this, but I have to go study for a biology exam. If anyone
> has questions please post it on the list or email me directly.
> Happy hiking.
> Ryan Christensen
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"O Solitude! If I must with thee dwell, let it not be among the jumbled
heaps of murky buildings--Climb with me the steep, Nature's

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