So simple, yet so complicated
A thru-hike is not easy, it is physically and mentally hard work. But it is a simple thing to do. Every day you know exactly what to do and how to do it – getting from point A to point B by putting one foot in front of the other. One of the most simple objectives there are.
Yet, with more than 500 miles in on this hike I find myself amazed of how many layers of complications there are to a thru-hike and how many different ways there are of accomplishing that objective. Do I want to hike alone or with others? What pace do I want to keep? How many miles do I want to do per day? Do I want to hang out in town or just get in only to head straight back out? How much am I willing to compromise? And this trail in particular seems to have more decisions and layers than other trails.
Trail vs. life
Just like life, trail will literally have you face uphill battles and put obstacles in your way that you need to either go around or go over. It will force you to make decisions as to where to go, such as stick with the CDT route even though there are fires or take alternates along the way that either makes the trail easier in the moment, or harder but more rewarding in the end. It all adds up and at the end of the day, most of your energy is spent and decisions that otherwise might not seem to be that big of a deal becomes a huge thief of energy. It’s an intense experience. But just like everything else, one way or another you’ll find a way to solve situations and keep moving forward. And sometimes you make the right decision and sometimes you wish you would have done things differently.
This year there are many hikers hiking the CDT and we are all at the same place at the same time. Yet no one is hiking the same trail as we all perceive it differently, have different experiences and make our own decisions.
Disappointment vs. control
One of my biggest fears are disappointments. And so with a project like this, that involves a lot of time, money and preparation, the stakes are high. And so, since the start of this hike I found myself wanting to control it, to do it my way, whatever that may be. But the truth is, it cannot be controlled. Trail will put obstacles in your way making you choose between one route and another, and neither one might be desirable. Your body might react differently on this hike than other hikes, despite no obvious change in gear or training. And, even though we come out here to spend time in nature, human interactions are still a very big part of it. The people are what makes a thru-hike so great. But even though other hikers are a source of joy, companionship and help it can lead to internal conflicts that may even result in external ones.
Even though I’m only about four weeks into this hike, this trail has already forced me to make a lot of decisions – big route decisions when deciding to take the Big Sky alternate instead of continuing on the CDT due to wildfires. Smaller ones such as what route to take whilst on trail. Decision to continue this hike alone but join up with other hikers when mine and their plans align. And even though these kind of decisions leave me somewhat tired and drained, the trail leaves no doubt or decision as to what I need to do to – simply put one foot in front of the other.
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