Total Miles: 1752.7
“I have a low opinion of books: they are piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at best signal smokes to call attention…One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books.”
Truth be told, there are far more days like this than not. It would be easy to think that thru-hiking is largely a stroll through a long succession of jaw-dropping scenery day after day, minute after minute, but alas the reality is slightly less glamorous. With no views to speak of, no pictures to take and mile upon mile of forest, broken only by the occasional logging road, the lack of visual distraction manifests in many ways. Not surprisingly, the tedium of the daily routine drifts more towards the surface of your consciousness, as does your awareness of that ache in your back, knees, feet, or anywhere else. Without the distraction of, say, the High Sierra, focus naturally turns inward and the mind can be fertile ground for an internal battle of perseverance that lasts all day long. Mentally, it can be far more exhausting than the physical.
The news isn’t all quite so gray, though. I love these days on trail, first, because they only serve to heighten my appreciation for the days that do have awe inspiring landscapes to surround myself with and remind me never to take them for granted. Perhaps more significantly, days that force me to turn my focus inward for hours at a time compel me to think most deeply about my life, about who I am, and about who I wish to grow to be. It is introspection and self-reflection at its most fundamental–the ultimate gift of both the struggle and of nature.