Why Am I Going? (April 16, 2021)
There is something about backpacking that fits me better than any other interest or past time I’ve found yet. I love the gentle nature of it, just ambling down the trail with a pack full of limited but necessary possessions. I love feeling truly absorbed, truly a part of the natural world around me. I like covering relatively large swaths of trail in a single day and observing nuances in the natural world along the way. I love sitting and taking breaks along the trail, and how good that feels after working hard for a while. I love eating dense high-calorie snacks for food, and eating often, and how wonderful it tastes when you’re out somewhere, away from any other options. I love how quiet it often is, and how it becomes easy to notice things like the wind, the branches swaying, the sunlight and shadows on the ground. I love taking breaks to read a good book, and then getting up and walking, and thinking about that book as I hike on.
I love backpacking with friends, and how much time it gives you to catch up, or walk together in companionable silence, over the course of a trip.
I love how a one or two-day trip of backpacking somehow slows time down so that actually it almost feels like 3 or 4 days!
I love that it often requires some research and preparation and planning as you go, but it also requires adaptability- at least if you want the trip to be enjoyable.
I haven’t found anyone who relates to this one yet, but I really love how all my gear smells now. My backpack smells like dirt, fresh air, sunlight, and sweat to me, and whenever I smell it, it takes me back to oh so many days out on a trail somewhere.
I love camping at night, and sleeping in a tent in the middle of a forest somewhere, just kind of protected and held there, in my mind.
I love observing wildlife, or coming to a good view, and being pulled out of my own head. I love being struck by natural beauty, and the spiritual reflections that are inspired along the way.
I remember asking another thru hiker one time, “What do you like so much about backpacking?” He paused and said, “I don’t know…” and then he threw out his arms, and gestured around, and said, “the wind, the trees, the sun, the light…!”
I remember walking up to an overlook somewhere, on a pretty summer evening, and looking down at the valley below. And overhearing another hiker say to his friend, “I just want to melt into the earth and become this landscape!!” I knew what he meant, you just looked out there and wanted to soak it all up into your being, and carry it for a while.
I even love the physical challenge of it, and how good it feels to grow stronger over time.
I guess this is why I’m going. To do something I love once more, day after day, and hopefully, also learn and grow and be the better for it.
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