Trying to Fill the Void



It has been a difficult year. I won’t go into the specifics, but I expect most of us have had those years. Whether your tough year involves illness, injury, job issues or family crises those things cause many issues. They are “life issues”. Sometimes life just gets in the way of personal goals or planned endeavors. Sometimes one of the casualties of “life issues” is the ability to get on the trail. Whether the impediment is a physical, mental or circumstances just make it impossible to get out there, the trail’s call is unanswered. Am I still a hiker if I haven’t hiked?


This year has been such a year. I mostly miss listening to the silence. Those who hike know what this means. I miss the camaraderie of my fellow hikers. I miss the total freedom from deadlines. I miss the hunger I feel after a long day of hiking, and the subsequent satisfaction of eating lots of food without guilt. In essence, I’ve missed a lot of things, but I have tried to focus on things that helps fill the emptiness. Here a few of them.


Talk to other hikers about their trips. Living vicariously through others does help. Hikers love talking about their hikes. You’re not hiking, so you love to ask questions about other people’s hikes. I asked detailed questions about food, gear, terrain etc. I look at Good Badger’s pictures of the Colorado Trail and read hiker blogs.


Do research on new gear. The blogs and other websites are chock full of gear reviews. Like most hikers, I am always interested in reading about new gear and trying to decide the next purchase will be.


Review your own gear. I call it a “gear audit”. I lay all of my gear out on the floor and assess it. Do I use it? Did it work? Can I hike without it and not miss it? Is it indispensible? Is the weight worth the value? This is a good exercise because it not only helps with the next hike, but also allows me to relive past hikes.


Walk somewhere. Walk anywhere. Maybe it’s an hour in the woods. Maybe you can walk to a place that you normally drive to. My wife thought I was crazy when I said I wanted to walk to a place when a perfectly good automobile was sitting in the garage. “I just need to do this” was my response. The walk helped.


Plan the next hike. Hopefully, at some point life will allow the next hike. I am planning mine. I don’t know when it will start, but it will start at some point. I enjoy the planning part, and it has helped my mood.


Life happens. Hopefully, you are all hiking. If you can’t, hang tough and figure out what will get you through it. I hope to see you out there soon.





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