Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ways to Hike

One can rush through a hike, ticking off the miles, to call it an achievement. I heard one backpacker at the end of the journey, as we waited for the ferry back, tell a companion that it was a 'knock down' for him, to prove he could do it, to prove he was stronger than the island, that it couldn't get him. I think he viewed his trip a success, but I don't think he had a very good time. His point was to be in control, to do something to the island, to beat it.

One can pause to enjoy and wonder, to wander and look and listen and turn over the leaf and look at the flower up close and wait and watch the moose until it leaves the pond. One can take the time to use all the senses, to catch your breath and take in the quiet and then to absorb the sounds of the birds and insects and the leaves moving, especially in the aspen forests. One can ponder the light coming through the leaves of the ferns and through the canopy overhead. This is my approach, to let the island happen to me. It is a little scary perhaps. to admit that I am not in control and must adapt to the conditions to remain comfortable, but I think it is a more real way to approach such a hike and a more rich way to live in general. It takes a little or a lot longer to cover the miles but I think people who approach it this way have a much better time at it. The slow meandering backpacker gets into camp later but has fewer blisters and less chance of injury, and has more pictures and more to write about in their journal in their tent after dark.

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