More Lessons Learned on the Trail

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — December 10, 2012

Fellow 2012 Pacific Crest Trail hikers have been discussing lessons learned on the trail.

Win the PCT List - Pacific Crest Trail
Not so serious list started by Lightweight on how to win the PCT at Casa de Luna. Photo by Brett Fisher.

Shutterbug and Northstar started up the discussion over at Wandering the Wilderness.

1. Senses awaken in nature.
2. People are good.
3. Hike your own hike.
4. Fewer possesions is freeing.
5. Wilderness is home.

The Bobcat added another five over at Roaming Bobcat.

1. Joy is our natural state.
2. Life is a mirror (you get what you give).
3. All you need is love and gratitude.
4. Freedom is an intrinsic quality.
5. Laugh it off.

And I’ve got a few more. But only four. Guess not everything comes in fives.

1. It’s not a race. Lightweight, a hiker who hadn’t yet escaped the vortex at Casa de Luna, started a list in the Anderson’s trail register, “How To Win the PCT.” First on the list: Be the last to Canada. If you’re hiking northbound that is. Hiking a long trail is not a competition. There aren’t winners and losers. All of us get there only one step at a time.

2. It’s not about the miles, but what happens between the miles. I heard this from my daughter Dances With Lizards, the only member of Team No Hurries to get to Canada this year. Maybe this is a variation of “the journey is the destination.” We live between the miles. Not in how many miles we’ve walked today, all week, or the whole hiking season.

3. It is what it is. It’s 105 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s 18 miles to water. There’s a thunderstorm right on top of us. The snake ate the rabbit babies. I am very hungry. It isn’t good and it isn’t bad. It is what it is and has no need for meaning. I take a break in the shade in the heat of the day. I carry 4 liters of water. I hunker down from the rain and lightning and watch the display. A snake’s got to eat, too. I eat some food. It is what it is, now and in this moment.

4. There’s pain but that doesn’t mean there is suffering. A day hiker descending Mount Whitney says to me, “Are we having fun yet?” I am huffing and puffing and legs burning on the way up and pant out, “I think we do this for other reasons than fun.” Walking on blisters hurts. Legs and knees and ankles and feet sometimes ache, and sometimes all ache at the same time. Sometimes I am very hungry. Sometimes I smell very bad and so do all my companions. My socks have holes in them. Yet, I laugh at the pain and discomfort. We laugh together. There is joy out here on this trail. Between every step and every mile.

Thanks for reading. What lessons have you learned on the trail? Tell us about this or any other thoughts you have on this post in the comments section below. Happy wanderings!

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