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[pct-l] Styles of Hiking...

While hiking Oregon and part of Washington a few years ago I met a
party of four hikers, newly graduated architecture students from
the University of Oregon on their "Grand Tour" before going to
work or searching for a job.  I'd passed them early in the day and
they caught up to me at a campspot near Lava Spring on the way
down from Mt. Adams.  They joked that they'd finally got to see
"bigfoot" as they plopped their stuff down and made themselves at
home.  My boot of choice was a size 12EE New Balance running shoe
with a unique pattern.    

They'd read Jardine's book and were full of questions of what it
was like to hike in running shoes, to hike more than their 10
miles a day, what I carried, etc.  We talked from about six, when
they showed up, until after midnight.  

What I found interesting was initially they (the guys at least; 
the woman withheld comments) denigrated their own experience, that
somehow they were less worthy because they were hiking only six
hours a day, carrying "extra stuff", and wearing hiking boots.

The evening progressed into night and darkness, and questions of
meaning and purpose, life trajectories, choices needing to be made
and projected opportunities lost flowered to shape the space of
our talking.  I felt like an elder as I listened to them search
out their hopes and dreams, their fears, opening to uncertainty
that was palpable, that pulsed.  What I remember is the feeling of
their (us!!!) being poised on the brink of the great adventure of
adulthood.  My hike, then 30 days long, had already become a
metaphor.  Theirs was becoming one.  We were able to "see"
differently from within the temporality of our hiking, a seeing
that for me has not faded away.  If anything, the perspective
developed during "The Trip" has grown and increasingly structures
how I am in the world.  

The baring of souls that took place during those hours was
precious.  I think we all went to bed that night slightly anxious
and wondering, foundations rocked because they were explored.
Our discussion of gear and perspectives on hiking had diffused as
we gave birth to a kind of beauty that for me has lasted, that
defines one theme of "The Trip".  

I woke up at dawn the next morning, quietly packed my stuff and
left them sleeping amidst their sundry gear, my heart warmed and

Jeffrey Olson
Seattle, Washington
White Pass to Manning in '97...

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