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Re: [pct-l] PCT 95% mental?



My experience is a bit different than Brian's.  My longest hike was 35 days,
which may or may not make a difference.  The reason the hike is 95% mental
has little to do with rain or snow or cold or heat.  To be sure these all
may be factors in decision making, but they are secondary to the "will" to
continue.  Why is it one person makes it through a week of rain in Oregon
and chooses to continue and another chooses to leave the trail? 

The ineffable and uncertain has an ugly head that rears itself constantly,
consistently, and without letup.  That which is most important in the realm
of being-uncertain is the "big picture" tha serves as vehicle for the "will
to continue".  When the big picture gets overwhelmed by momentary
conditions, be they a partner leaving due to injury, weather, lonliness,
etc., the will continue wavers.  In my section hikes I've met a number of
thru hikers who in dialogue visibly showed this wavering.  it was
unmistakable.  The 3000' climb coming up I'd just completed and described
was received with a droop in shoulders and naked vulnerability.  

I've also met thru-hikers who were ethereally present in the big picture.  I
might change the 95% "mental" to 95% "emotional".  I'm thinking of one
fellow who was so focused, so single-minded on getting his mileage he'd
blocked everything else out.  His doppelganger was stretched tight...
When the filters of civilization fade away, the busyness of civic life is no
more, there is only the raw, strong, coursing emotions that have been there
all along.  Solo Hiking affords this state of being most easily and quickly.  

Jeffrey Olson
Seattle, Washington...where the sun is shining...

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