The Trail isn’t Working Against You — You Are

It’s cold. It’s rainy. Your joints ache. Maybe you have a brace from injuries past or scars from missteps taken.

In these moments, it can feel like the trail is your enemy. As if it’s trying to break you down through trial and tribulation. After all, it’s easier to blame the rock that tripped you than your tired feet for dragging along the trail.

But I think the truth we sometimes find hard to accept is that the trail doesn’t change. It wasn’t made to manufacture your suffering, it’s just there — existing — and we get to choose how we experience it.

Our egos and bodies move in conflict as we reach for more miles. Our egos want more, and our bodies don’t always follow suit. That gap between what we want and what we need can be crippling to some hikers.

Sometimes we learn that the hard way, but sometimes things just work themselves out.

When I jumped back onto the trail after my injury, I may have pushed more miles than I ought to have. I wanted to keep up while my body wanted to heal. This time, I was met with a special trail angel to get me through.

After a tiring 10 mile hike (and over 8 more remaining into Erwin, TN) I sat next to a small road with little hope for making it before dark at that pace. That’s when I heard the buzzing of Miss. Janet’s van. She showed up just in time.

She generously offered to slack-pack me the rest of the way to Erwin and even offered me snacks to motivate me through the rest of the day. It was a challenging day, but it wasn’t because of the trail.

The trail provided for me, even when I felt most crushed by it.

I had the opportunity to talk to Miss. Janet about her trail angel days. When I asked her why she goes so far out of her way to help some greasy hikers, she asked if she could give me a hug. As she held me there she said, “See? It doesn’t work without both of us.”

I suppose the trail doesn’t work without both parties giving something to one another too.

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Comments 1

  • Dave Michel (Pitchit) : May 3rd

    Well, I do think some of the trail clubs (I’m thinking of you, NY, VT, ME) are a bit sadistic in their trail layouts. Going up over every rock outcropping, preying to have never heard of switchbacks. I never cussed the trail. Trail Clubs, however…….


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