Learning to Accept the Fog

It’s thick, humid and suffocating. The early morning juxtaposition of weather has created a gray haze clouding your vision. It sucks, but it’s the reality we’re faced with, and as thru-hikers we accept the conditions we are dealt and trek onward.

I think there’s an important lesson to be learned within that specific mindset of hiking culture: we can’t always see what’s ahead, but we choose to accept where we are and move forward anyway.

Thru-hikers are not a superhuman species of humanity hard-wired to avoid anxieties and fear. We panic. We go off course. We make mistakes.

My friends and I joke of the hopelessness of trying to plan further than 48 hours ahead of where you are for this very reason. It feels just about impossible to plan ahead — you’re often forced to take things one step at a time.

The practice thru-hikers naturally become accustomed to is not an avoidance of the natural anxieties associated with losing control, it’s the ability to accept when things are out of your hands and trust that we will find our way.

And yet, some of us (myself included) are still shit at applying these same concepts to our lives off-trail. We even read countless books on surviving and thriving in the backcountry, then leave it all in the woods to return to an even foggier endpoint.

There’s a human instinct to avoid uncertainty, We see a fog, and we catalogue every possible outcome on the other side of it. But as thru-hikers, we tap into a deep sense of courage and keep trekking on.

You can’t always trust that the fog to lift, but you can trust that you’ll be able to make it through.

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