How the ‘Why Am I Hiking’ has Changed

Why am I hiking?

I’m on a spiritual journey. I am constantly searching for truth in my life and that connection with something greater. There are definite highs and lows during this search. Sometimes I have amazing revelations and gain new understandings, and other times I feel incredibly confused and unsure of anything. It was during one of these lows that a book called Crazy Free: An Epic Spiritual Journey  by Melissa Wyld came into my life. What attracted me to the book was that she too was on a spiritual journey. I was curious about her search and what she was finding.

As it happens, part of her journey takes place on the PCT, which is, of course, why this book is one of my inspirations for doing a thru-hike. It made sense to me to look for my truth in nature. Unfortunately, I actually believed I would find enlightenment by hiking the PCT. Really, I’m not kidding. I decided that walking 2660 miles would send my spiritual self straight to enlightenment.


Things change

But as happens on a journey, I’ve moved down the path a ways since then. I realized that, yes, I just might become enlightened while on the trail, but I probably won’t, and it’s certainly foolish to expect it. What I did realize was that hiking the trail will be more like a spiritual retreat in my church of choice, nature. I say this having experienced 10-day silent retreats, where there is no access to phones, internet, books, or writing, and no interaction with other people even. Everything is stripped away, so that you have to spend 10 days with yourself. There is nothing else to worry about except what’s going on here and now.

Dedication in “The End of Your World: Uncensored Straight Talk on the Nature of Enlightenment” by Adyashanti

Why am I hiking?

I now believe my thru-hike will be like those retreats. Everything will shrink to include only my thoughts and my day-to-day survival on the trail. It will challenge me to take each moment as it comes. It will force me to be alone with my thoughts, and it will allow me to focus and reflect on the things going on in my head. I know to most people this sounds fucking scary, be alone with my thoughts??? No way, can’t do it. But if you listen, in amongst the noise, is the truth, and during the hike I will have plenty of time to listen.

So, while I may not be an enlightened being when I reach Canada, I will have at least learned some valuable stuff about myself. Why am I thru-hiking the PCT? To learn some truths, debunk some lies, and come out the other end a better person.

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Comments 2

  • Vince Piquet : Mar 6th

    Most folks don’t get the concept of an epiphany, or the realization that time spent in one’s own company can be as you have explained, a spiritually healing time. Continuing a SOBO on the A/T this June after a tendon issue last year in Maine. Really enjoyed your post. Good luck in your journey. Fair winds and following seas.

    • Annette : Mar 6th

      Hi Vince,

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Wow, it must have been tough to have to leave the trail. I wish you much success on your hike this year. Love the sailing reference :).



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