Bald Eagles Over Dry Feet

My comfort on the trail isn’t defined by dry feet, no scratches on the legs, or lack of heavy breathing. Feeling comfortable while hiking means something different to me and CDT section on Gila River sets a perfect example of it.

The Gila section is demanding. Crossing the icy cold creek at 7:00 a.m. every 200 yards requires not questioning what you are doing. Sandy, muddy terrain, full of river-washed stones, bushwhacking and constantly looking for the trail slow your hike down. You are wet, and cold, have frozen shoes in the morning, and have so many scratches on your legs that you look like you have just gotten off from a fight with a tiger.
But none of the above difficulties is stronger than everything you can see and experience while hiking the Gila canyon.

The biggest comfort and happiness while hiking I feel is when I can watch wildlife and immerse myself in nature. Sometimes it is more literal than one can imagine. Hiking the whole “pink line” along Gila canyon lets you feel every plant you pass because they overgrow the trail, but think of it as a good thing. You can touch it or it touches you, you can notice its smoothness, structure, and tenderness. You start to watch more closely and understand better. And that’s priceless and frankly, that’s the reason I hike. Yes, the biggest fulfillment from my outdoor adventures comes from learning, not from making my life on the trail easier. Simply, I want to spend as much time in nature as possible because that allows me to read the surroundings more carefully and understand them deeper. Be a more aware nature observer and however trivial it sounds – a better human being because one comes from another. Doesn’t matter if the trail I choose is longer, slower, or more difficult, requires bigger food loads, or seeing no one for a couple of days. I still can make it to Canada and I don’t need to make my CDT as easy as possible. The only thing I want is to make my thru-hike as beautiful and meaningful as possible.

I will always put seeing bald eagles before dry feet. Watching swimming (and mesmerizing) milk snakes over shortcuts. Analyzing bear marks on the trees over my legs without tens of scratches. I will always put the possibility of learning nature over town time.

Sure thing that would be great if one could observe the natural wonders and wild animals with little to no effort. But usually, it just doesn’t work like that. And that’s ok and I’m willing to pay the cost of long hours or days in discomfort. And to be honest, that price is not even that high.


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