You can’t read or talk about the AT for long at all before someone tosses that phrase at you. I was already sick of hearing it before we even got out here. But of course, experience is more profound than reading about something, and now that we’ve been out awhile I have a new appreciation for it.
Usually it means do what you need to do to enjoy your hike and don’t let pressure or competition with other people change that. If you want to carry coffee and creamer and sugar, don’t let snarky ultra-lighters bring you down. If your knees need to stop after eight miles today, don’t let everyone passing you on their way to fifteen make you feel inferior. Do your own thing, basically.
Actually, I wish it was a more common philosophy off trail, too.
But for me it also means that you take what the day brings as it comes and don’t fight the trail. If today I have low energy, that’s my hike. If it’s raining or beautiful or someone gives me a soda or I have to take days off to rest a knee, that’s my hike. All I have to do is hike it. Preferably without getting all pissed off at not being able to control it.
This is a lesson I really need to take back to real life with me. I tell myself I’ve truly learned and understood that control is mostly an illusion. But it’s clear to me I haven’t. Today I was hiking along beautiful North Carolina ridges, listening to Groundation. That’s positive vibrations, have-faith music for me. And I just felt the tiniest bit of release. I tend to be so frustrated with humanity and the way we’re running the earth into the ground and oppressing each other at every turn. But even though I want to take charge and make everything okay, I can’t. This is the world I walk in. This is my hike. It’s not too late, I believe that, and that’s where my contentment lies. Hiking the hike I have and we have beneath our feet as humbly and in as good a faith as I can, day by day.