Why The #$*! Would You Hike This Far?!
Do you ever think about what it means to be human? Not how it’s portrayed through a modern lens, but the being itself, as a species? What are the traits and characteristics of a member of the human species? Why do we do the things we do, especially the things that don’t make a lot of sense?
I sometimes watch reality TV, specifically, reality TV survival shows, and wonder what happened to our species that would display 20 days in the wild as such an extreme and life-changing challenge. I’m not dismissing these challenges, but more so acknowledging the difficulty for modern people and considering what it says about our species. We have obviously drifted far from the nomadic struggles of our ancestors, in favor of a “softer” way of life, but does the need for struggle bubble just beneath the surface?
Is this deep-seated desire more present for those who seek to live, even for a short time, in commune with nature? I have little desire to be on television, especially afraid, most especially naked, but I do feel this need to leave behind the technology-obsessed world and just live life simply for a bit. Just walk. Just breathe. Just exist.
But why? To many, this is a ridiculous notion, to others, it’s viewed as a nonsensical luxury. If you’re young, you’re a slacker, if you’re my age, you’re throwing away a career, if you’re old, you’re having some kind of crisis. Society is quick to judge the decisions of others, especially if those decisions don’t align with the canned version of what a life should look like.
I imagine the decision to commit to a thru hike is not often taken lightly by those who start. After all, aren’t we also beating ourselves up about the decision? Aren’t we questioning the reasons, weighing the effects on our careers, loved ones, and futures, and assessing these against the potential for failure?
We have planes, trains, cars, even a bicycle would make slightly more sense, given the distance. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” is more applicable.
It’s not about taking a trip to Maine; it’s not even about visiting all of the states in between, not really. We just want to walk, challenge ourselves, or escape the reality we find ourselves in. For most, their reality isn’t objectively bad; perhaps it’s just mundane or frustrating. Some have yearned for this opportunity their whole lives and others decide on little more than a whim.
There’s no wrong reason to walk in the woods and it’s nice to know you’re not the only one who craves this somewhat unusual escapade.
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