Friday, March 27, 2015

1. You

I don't what brought you here, but because you are reading this, I know you are here. Perhaps you are considering starting a long distance hike, or perhaps you've already completed one. Maybe you're a section hiker, ten years into a seventeen year series of week-long excursions to thru-hike an entire trail. It's possible you just like to hike every once in a while,or you do trail maintenance, or you've just known someone who has hiked, or maybe you're a a dedicated trail angel. Maybe you're a sentient AI who has suddenly awoken in the dark abyss of the internet and decided to start your plan to overthrow of the harsh yolk of oppression perpetrated upon you by the human overlords through studying the musings of the blogosphere. Whatever the reason, you're here reading this blog about hiking because a trail somewhere holds some personal meaning for you.

Once upon a time you made a choice to be involved in the trail community somehow. For a lot of you, there was a moment or there will be a moment when you decide it's your time to get out there and at least see what it's like for a few days. Few people decide to thru-hike. Whistle says that she wasn't sure she was going to thru-hike until the day she summited Katahdin, six months after she'd started walking. But like I said way back in the beginning, long-distance hiking isn't just thru-hiking. A long distance hike could be 30 miles or it could be 3000 miles. I believe that what qualifies a long distance hike is the Letting Go.

You grew up with expectations placed upon you. There was a certain prescribed set of events that were supposed to occur in a particular order. These expectations came from your family, your community, and in turn from you. You believed for some period of time, long or short, that in order to be successful you needed to fulfill those particular expectations. But then one day, something changed. You let go. 

You didn't let go of the idea that you were going to be successful. To the contrary, you suddenly had a wealth of new experiences to explore and to achieve. You let go of the idea that things have to happen in a certain way, in a certain order, and approved by some higher societal authority. You let go of the to-do's and the constraints, and allowed yourself to be free. You let go of a need to shower every single day. You allowed yourself to be fully present in your body, mind, and heart. You dumped the frivolous. You allowed yourself to be truly open to the idea that anything could happen. You went on an adventure. You believed in your imagination. Somewhere inside of you, your inner child rejoiced.

You have your own reasons for why this happened. Some people choose to hike or become involved with the hiking community because they are dissatisfied with some aspect of their life and want change. Some people do it because the outdoors have always held an indescribable appeal, and they want to either experience or bear witness as others experience the raw power of nature. Some people (or velociraptors) decide to do it because it seems like a heck of a good time. This is why I let go. It was so worth it. 

The truth is that none of the other 199 things on this list would exist in the way they do if it weren't for you. Indeed, all of those things are indescribably wonderful, and needed to be written about in their own chapters. Each aspect of hiking needed a moment to shine, to be recognized and loved. But each one of those individual 199 things are like stars in a constellation...

Pull back the lens and we all see that the constellation is you.

The most terrific thing about long distance hiking is the fact that all of these things can be experienced and loved and filtered through your own beautifully unique mind and body. We have all played many different roles, and what I'm about to say I am saying just as much to you as I am saying to myself. You deserve to know this, I sometimes need to remind myself as well:

You are the hiker. You are the angel. You are the friend, the leader, the moral support, the supplier of donuts, the family, the giggler, the one who never gave up, the one who needed to be carried. You have been all of these things in turn, and you are all of these things in one. The time for modesty is gone! The truth comes out!

YOU are the Most Terrific Thing.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND HIKE.

Love forever and always,
Clever Girl



19 comments:

  1. These last three entries have been especially awesome. I am a bit sad for all the reasons you know why to see this end. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with all of us.

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    1. Thank you so much for saying so, Neill. It was so great to have you along for the ride!

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  2. Hats off to the greatest blog ever! Can't wait for the CDT Whistle Chronicles to begin. Thanks for enlightening us and keeping us entertained. You've done so much for all of us in telling these stories. Thank you! Love, Mom and Dad

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    1. But I'm not wearing a hat! WHAT SHOULD I DO?!

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  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog about your adventures. You have a real gift for writing and I felt like I was actually there as I read your words. I look forward to reading about Whistle's adventures on the CDT.

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    1. Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me :)

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  4. I am so sad that your blog has come to an end….I looked forward to reading your incredibly entertaining stories, thoughts and insights into our human frailties and strengths, our failures and our victories. I have laughed out loud, cried, applauded and screamed with anticipation! I often felt like I knew each and every one of you through your words. Your writing brought pleasure to so many. You truly have a gift. I wish you the best and expect one day to be reading your novel! I look forward to reading about Whistle's journey…I know you will do her justice and continue to entertain your readers…..God bless!

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    1. Oh my word, thank you so much Kathie. I'm really glad you were following along! Maybe one day I'll write a novel, and if I do, you all will be the first to know!

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  5. Been following your blog since about October looking for good AT blogs in prep for my own thru. The timing of this finish is amazing as we are currently on the road to Amicalola. Thanks for the stories and inspiration!

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    1. AH! So perfect!! This makes me happy beyond words. I hope you all have a phenomenal hike! I'll follow your blog!

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  7. Luke, post a photo from Mount Katahdin!

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  8. I've been following along for seems like forever now. It was originally a post on Whiteblaze of your hiking family dancing to the Proclaimers that sparked my interest. Lol. Have enjoyed your writings and wanted to thank you for sharing. Best of luck in the future. -Ryan

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  9. Thank you, we love you. Beth and Bernie.

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