Finding the Building Blocks of Life Along the PCT
I begin by writing where the idea first came from to thru-hike. Then I go on to explain why I’m thru-hiking. Explicitly, I’m thru-hiking because the mental tools that it will give me will help me reach my goals.
The first time the thought crossed my mind to do something like this was when I saw the movie “Into the Wild,” which is based on the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer. I vividly remember seeing scenes of Christopher as he graduated from Emory University and left society to forge his own path into the wilds of Alaska. Famously, Christopher’s journey ended with his own demise. That wasn’t the part that stuck with me, though. There was something else about the story that compelled me. I vividly remember seeing scenes of him on his journey and all of the hairs on my arm standing on end. I got that spine-tingling feeling that you can get when you see something really beautiful, but you’re not sure why. Maybe that’s just it, though, that’s where that sensation comes from – moments when the mind is unable to process, unable to abstract into words what it is the eyes, ears, tongue, skin are sensing. In the last few years I’ve tried to make a habit of doing things that give me those sensations. I trust them. Being out in nature and seeing unbelievably beautiful sights gives me those sensations like almost nothing else does.
I am a firm believer in climate change and the nascent theory of a megafauna sixth extinction. I have always loved animals and the outdoors. I have always wanted to protect them. Seeing the beauty of the trail and what we stand to lose will only affirm those feelings. It will give me the fuel I need to make my mark.
Skills Gained by Hiking
A brief note on the paragraphs below. Consistency and discretization are both skills that I believe will be engendered in me by hiking the trail. They are hard lessons to learn, but I think the best way to really learn a lesson is to try to live it daily. Actualization or attainment of goals is something that will be fostered by both consistency and discretization.
One of the hardest things in my (albeit short) life has been consistency. This is one of the hallmarks of being an adult. Doing something daily, showing up, despite the circumstances. According to every clickbait self-improvement article ever written, doing your craft consistently is the most important part of doing a craft in the first place. This I’ve found to be true. It’s true with meditation, relationships, dungeons and dragons, exercise, creating art, and daily wellness. If nothing else, walking many miles every day despite the environmental conditions around you and your own physical condition will make you consistent as hell. Hopefully it will make me more consistent, and I’ll be able to incorporate consistency into my daily life more.
When faced with a large problem the first thing that any computer scientist worth anything will do is break it up into smaller subproblems. When faced with 2,100-plus miles of trail, what one must do is break it up into smaller subsections of trail. When faced with long-term life goals, what a person who has learned the power of discretization firsthand will do is break those goals up into smaller short-term goals.
Lots of people go through life with hopes and dreams that never come to fruition; I don’t want to be one of those people. I have a lot I want to do with my life. I have many personal hopes and dreams that I want to accomplish. Thru-hiking is one of them. If I can do something as physically and mentally demanding as this, then this accomplishment in conjunction with the two other attributes listed above will help me actualize those goals.
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