Comment Response : Kindness Will Win
I could tell from his comment that he must have read at least four of my previous writings. I screen shot the text and added a heart to keepsake it to my photo favorites folder on my phone. I archived the email that first alerted me to the comment to a folder that contains all my writing aclamades. By the time I lay my weary head down to go to sleep that night I could have recalled his comment word by painfully pointed word from my obsessive memory.
“You are right about the negative impact of all those people on the fragile wilds of the PCT. Now just think of the impact if every hiker brought their dog.
Really you are not solo, ultralight, or practicing LNT when you bring your dog. If you can leave your husband and your child behind, you can certainly leave your dog with them. Self reliance may be the lesson the trail has to teach you. Please don’t turn the PCT into your private dog park.”
The comment was connected to my latest blog post: Social Media – The New PCT Bible. In it, I had shared my thoughts on the impact of the popular movie Wild and related autobiography to the increase of hikers attempting the Pacific Crest Trail. I rambled about the mass amount of hashtags connected to thru-hiking, as well as the jaw-dropping images of mountains and wildlife tagged with them. I had approached the subject with a nod to personally lessening my impact, as well as mentally preparing for the realities of trail trash life. I thought it simple. I thought it easy to support. I thought it anther in the queue as I prepare my chops to start this journey of a lifetime.
What I did not expect was someone to point a personal spotlight on all my previously admitted insecurities as they systematically and cruelly tore me down.
I had not mentioned anything about solo hiking. I did not throw any hints to claiming to be an ultralight hiker. I did not mention being a wife or mother. I had no commentary on my wild adventure furry dog. In order to place those pieces of evidence of what was perceived as wilderness wrongs into his comment he had to have read my previous blogs: The PCT is Calling – My Dog, That Is, What About the Kids?, Confessions of a Thru-Hiking Mom, PCT | Walking Away to Find Myself, and The Lazy Way to PCT Prep.
This critic read them, took notes of all my worries, wrapped them into the barrel of a pistol and shot me straight in the back. He did not leave a name or a profile to show who was so disappointed in me as a person, just a made-up name connected to a random IP address. I wonder if the bravery of an unknown shadow behind a keyboard would be as definitively strong if they had stood face to face with me as I held the hands of my foster children. Would words be so freely flowing facing a woman, who is a mother to those who lost their first families, who is a wife to a husband who stands beside her through trauma, who is a daughter, and who is a friend. Would they be as insensitive if I were more then words on a website but a breathing, bleeding, enormously feeling human being? I sure hope not.
But god save us all if they would say the same comment when face to face. I do not want to believe in a world where simple kindness is lost.
I will argue that those who are lucky enough to get to dream about nights on the PCT trail are truly doing the best they can, with what they can, when they can. I can personally say the amount of time and editing I put into each one of these posts are heavy with good intentions. I am new to the blogging game. I am not sure if it gets easier with time but each and every time I punch that button to publish, I hold my breath. When you commit to a new live post it is watching a fragment of your heart break off to wander on its own into cyberspace. No matter how much preparation. No matter how much you have researched your topic. There is that final jump to commit that still is a shaky agreement to vulnerability.
As a PCT Trek blogger I am trying my very hardest to be authentically engaged with whoever reads my words. I want to add to this little side of the social media world in a loving and meaningful way.
I will share. Even as I brush myself off from falling not so gracefully on my disgraced face, I will still share my story. But let me be clear. I am not going to debate the impacts of animals on trails. I will simply adhere to policies and requests of rangers on the best protocols when in the backcountry. I am not going to pretend to know my base weight or make a graph. I am going to be thankful to have a pack and a tent house to sleep in at night. I will not defend my choice to hike without my family. Bluntly stated: Those whose opinions actually do matter to me on this subject are the very people who are cheering me on wholeheartedly as I pursue this dream.
I will write my words. I will plan my hike. I will smile at fellow hikers on the trail. I will pick up trash I see. I will train my dog to follow pet policies in place. I will pack in and pack out my own items.
I will do my absolute best to respect Mother Nature as well as human spirits who reflect her creation.
If you do not agree. If you want to continue a fight I am not willing to fight. Then stop reading. I am not hiking for your approval. I just firmly ask that you make your comments kind or not at all. Let us be kind. The hiking community is a rare and precious one. The support on and off the trail often can mean life or death in sketchy situations. And those who are willing to write their hearts out for the thru-hiking community are people I personally admire and respect.
Let us be kind.
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I’m very excited to read about your hike with your pup! It’s hard to read all the negative things people say about dogs on the trail. Don’t worry though because on the trail you’ll find almost all hikers will love seeing your pup. Also people who make comments both positive and negative, are enjoying your writing.
Unfortunately there are some sitting behind keyboards who seek out negativity. Ask yourself. “Will this all matter three months from now”? Keep the fire burning in your soul to accomplish your dreams and let no person stand in your way of seeing those dreams come true.
Good luck !
Sounds like the same troll on my You Tube. Haters gonna hate and you are bringing kindness and positive intentions to this trail. Keep sharing. You’re writing is wonderful.
We need more voices like yours! Kindness matters. Are we certain that the anonymous post is actually from a long distance hiker and not a poser or a bot or simply a dog hater? His criticism [taking a wild guess on gender] violates the first tenet of long distance hiking – Hike your own hike! Ignore the haters. You’ll find few – if any – on the trail. Also, let me be the first to throw out a trail name suggestion: BAM (Badass Mom). Cheers to you and your supportive family. Happy Trails.
I applaud you for doing what you do, for doing what you’ve done, and for setting a goal to do what most people are afraid to attempt. You don’t need anyone’s approval to do something for yourself. Go be the best you you can be! Happy trails!