The Honest Trail
(Video from Sneffels this past summer…the night before this hike, I woke up to a bear on top of me…still don’t know how to tell that story yet).
I am certain I am not the first to have had these thoughts or to have written some variation of these words. I am certain that someone else has or will say this with much more eloquence and clarity. Nevertheless, I am compelled to attempt to convey my ideas in my own disheveled way. Today I feel they are important, tomorrow I might read them and cringe.
Truth. Cold-hard honesty. Somewhere along the way it gets buried in all the confusion that is life. There are so many voices from all directions telling us: how we should be, who we should be, what we should do, how to live, how to spend our time, when we are right, when we are wrong, what our limits are. Work. Friendships. Relationships. Break-ups. Make-ups. Cars. Gas prices. Bills. Insurance. Politics. Television. Emails. Somewhere hidden deep underneath all of that chaos and nonsense is the truth…the true YOU is somewhere in there. It’s easy to lose track of yourself. More than once, I have lost myself to the supposed to’s of life. I think that’s why I like being on a trail. Trails are honest, they are quick to point out your weaknesses and they reward you for your strengths. There’s no beating around the bush, there’s no agenda, just cold-hard honesty. Sometimes that honesty is scary or humbling. Other times that honesty is rejuvenating and gratifying. Trails have nothing to sell to you; there are no commercials. Trails dissolve illusions and self-delusions. Trails tell you who your friends are when times get tough and the going gets rough; they tell you who a person really is. Trails don’t care what you look like or if you smell bad. Some trails tell you where you are, how far you’ve gone, and how far you have left to go…other trails go where they want to go without any signs, rhyme, or reason. Trails don’t care if you have a million dollars in your bag. Trails will bring you more flowers than any person ever could, and not because they did something wrong or because someone died…they bring flowers because it’s just what they do when the time is right. Trails have a way of improving your vision and bring little bugs, blades of grass, and big mountains the attention and admiration they deserve. But most importantly, trails bring out the truth in each of us. Those long miles in the fresh open air, those nights under the stars, those gloomy bad weather days all ask us to reflect. They give us the opportunity to bury all those other opinions under miles of dirt, water, snow, cactus, whatever…they give us permission to listen to that one unique voice inside each and every single one of us. They grant us permission to be honest with ourselves. And whether or not we like what that voice has to say, the trail has taught us that we can endure much more than we ever thought possible: the up’s, the down’s, the cold, the heat, the instability. Trails have taught us that as long as we keep marching forward with honesty, integrity, a bit of grit, and a willingness to adjust accordingly…we will prevail. And we cannot forget that every now and then, it is imperative that we go beyond the trail and make our own path in our own way, relying on nothing more than the wisdom we have gained from listening to our inner voice.
Some photos of my time on the trails so far this year:
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