The Day I Became Nature

The sun was beating on the outside of my tent, turning it into something like that of a sauna. The evening before was damp and the condensation was dripping down the inside walls. I wanted to wake up early to catch the sunrise on my first summit but I was being lazy about breaking down camp. I was 6 days into my section and to say the least I was sick of all the food I had brought and I had only a couple days left on trail leaving me with few options, so for now I would opt out of my nasty ass oatmeal. This was not my best morning and I was fairly tilted.

Being I was short on supplies, mainly food because I had shared a bit during my second night at camp, i figured a half of a joint and a cup of instant coffee would work for now and I would ration my two days of food over the next three. At least between the two I could hopefully get moving sooner than later and make up some time I had lost while being grumpy about the rain the day before. I broke down camp and on I went.

I make it a habit to stop about a mile into my mornings. Usually i perform my foolish and eccentric stretching rituals, run a toothbrush over my teeth and dig a hole for my morning duties. Normally, this fifteen minutes is extremely uneventful. Today was different. I stopped and dropped my pack. Sadly, after only a mile, dropping my pack was a well needed moment of peace. Now truly, and to give TMI, the stretching, teeth brushing and hole digging is pretty fucking boring. The shit though…. its the most peaceful shit youll ever have. Birds are chirping, the suns shining, your body is weightless from instantly shedding weight from the pack. Call me crazy, but shitting in the woods is a friggin passage to manhood…..and hikerhood as far as im concerned. Believe me when i tell you its a much preferred method over a privy, pre dawn, with a headlamp. The flies are relentless and shitting in the dark is of no talent of mine. So here I am all squatted up off trail a few seconds…. the silence is overwhelmingly loud as you listen for hikers nearing your pack, or bigger game approaching you as to say “hey why are you shitting in my living room.” (I am not sure this happens, but i duly note it none the less.) Crack* snap* crack* THUD! Oh this is great, i decided to shit under an oak tree. Who squats under a tree that fights back? Apparently I do. Crack* crack* snap* crack* THUD. I think to myself, “isnt it a bit early for acorns to be falling.” So now that I have provided you a mental picture of me squatting under a tree trying to shit in peace while laughing at my own stupidity, picture this. I have my back against the tree and mere inches over my right shoulder on the trunk of the tree i catch movement out of my peripheral. Well for you who dont know me, im deathly afraid of snakes. That’s is the first thing that came to mind. I dive off the tree, praying to mother fuckin earth that i miss my shit in the process. (I did if you were wondering…fortunately) Unfortunately with my drawers around my ankles i take a little fall. I start laughing hysterically at the outer body vision of me laying there, balled up laughing hysterically with a shitty friggin ass. I glance past my bare back side and see a chipmunk on the tree. I start swearing and laughing at the little bastard. Now, im much a fan of nature and not so much one to take a life. That being said, had I been able to derive a way to catch that son of a bitch right at that moment, I assure you I would have made him my lunch without a second thought. Here comes lesson one about becoming nature. When diving out of the way to avoid shit and random animals…. do watch where your toilet paper is. Personally, I did not, and realized I had so conveniently kicked the toilet paper into my shit. I literally was about to become nature as I found myself picking the biggest leaves within my vicinity. Good thing I perched up to an oak tree and not a pine. Although, if you are not familiar with oak trees, they have a considerably small leaf. So there it is… becoming nature 101. Wiping your ass with a leaf. oak

Now onto a much cleaner subject. I assure you I was still giggling to myself as I picked my pack up and threw it upon my shoulders. The mental picture of the event had me shaking my head. I could not help but wonder about that fucking chipmunk. I wondered a lot of things, but mainly about his ballsy curiosity that not only put him willing within inches of a human, but within smells distance of human crap. I assumed there were some seriously fucked up facts about chipmunks I did not yet know. I kid you not at that very moment, and only seconds after I put my pack on, contemplating my idiocy, I rounded a corner that had a log protruding onto the inside of the trail. There sat a chipmunk. Acorn in fucking hand. I can recall making some stupid comment like “hey you little fucker, your brother got me good a few minutes back.” He scurried off at the sound of my voice. Around another corner I go… surer than all hell there sat another fucking chipmunk smack dab in the middle of the trail, acorn in hand. At this very moment I began questioning my sanity. I had decided to pass it off as an abundance of both acorn and chipmunk. Besides, what the hell do i know about chipmunk preferences. For all I know, maybe I just shit at the bottom of the holy grail and mother of all acorn trees and they were angry. 538984489

I chalked all the chipmunks up to chance and kept on walking. I made it a little over a mile albeit had ascended close to 2000 feet. It had been close to an hour and I was hot, sweaty, and somewhat fatigued so I took a quick break. The woods were becoming bristly and smaller. The roots starting to show as they do when you get up in elevation and thank god there were no fucking oak trees for sake of my own well being. I sat down and was eating the last of some dried apples I had. That’s when becoming nature 101 kicked it up a to level 2. Not a meter from my feet, that were resting peacefully on my pack IMG_20150902_122947319-EFFECTS.jpgas my back lay against a downed and rotted tree trunk, there was a mother fucking chipmunk. “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” I bellowed loudly. No doubt the mountain heard me. The interesting part, he didn’t scamper off. Hindsight, I sing and whistle the majority of the time when I hike alone, so maybe he had become familiar with my noise making. Oddly enough, he had a serious fucking staring problem. That is when I noticed an acorn in his hands. Had I not been sitting, I would have no doubt fallen ta’ fuck over. For a mental picture… think… ICE AGE. There is with no question the idea that these chipmunks are stereotypical when it comes to their acorns. Or so I thought. That is when he dropped it. An all to familiar thud yet quieter due to a lack of free fall. He took a little hop, putting him a couple inches closer to my feet. Well, maybe this was the pot talking, as I had complimented my apples with the other half of my joint, but i struck up a very one sided conversation with the little thing. Which i hesitantly admit was cuter than all hell. Like a dog with his head a bit off center, he seemed to at least be hearing me.I dont believe for a second he understood me naturally but he heard me. I tossed a piece of dried apple fairly close to him. He moved so quickly you could have sworn he caught it with his bare hands before he ran off. Literal seconds passed by and there he was…AGAIN. I tossed another piece of apple over his way and wouldn’t you know it, he grabbed that and took off too. I began to think I was back home on the coast of Maine, acting as a tourist and flocking the seagulls around with my left over french fries. (Highly frowned upon by locals mind you.) He kept coming, I kept throwing. Each time he would disappear momentarily and come back empty handed. It was like a backwards game of fetch. I cant lie, I felt a bit used when I was not getting anything in return. (For the record, i dont try and make feeding wildlife any habit. We were many miles away from a lean to and chipmunks dont seem to be quite as deadly as say… a bear… right or wrong, I made my choices)

My rest had come to an end but I must admit that this little fella had some serious attention. I almost felt a little protective and responsible in regard to his well being. After all he did eat all my fucking apples. So…. I decided to watch him. Really, my attention had started because of the conversation. As I was walking off, I was still talking to him…. something along the lines of “alright pal, lunch was nice, but its time for me to go.” Mine you i tend to talk to everything in the woods. Numerous days on trail, and the trees make pretty peaceful hiking buddies. Don’t judge. Well, all the same, as I was saying my good byes and walking off I had noticed him head in a similar direction. We were up in tree line so his movement was no longer lost in the thicket of the tall pines and overgrown brush. I kept track of him…. well what happened next was becoming nature example number 2. For the next 4 miles… and when i say 4 miles… i mean a literal 4 miles, this damned chipmunk would pop out on a branch, log, or rock every hundred feet or more and we would continue our conversation. Now for the record, he was no longer carrying an acorn but every bit of me assumes this was exactly the same chipmunk that scared the shit out of me…. well to be accurate, scared me while I was shitting. I would not have believed this myself had I not watched him scurry with my own two eyes for these 4 miles. I would stop and talk for a second as he stared, even continuing our conversation as if he was on my shoulder when he scurried off… instantaneously as I would pass he would dive off about 15 feet into the woods and start running parallel to the trail. I could clearly and without doubt see him pop out. Don’t get me wrong, I know he wanted food. What impressed me most was the ground he covered. The intent he had. His ability to not be afraid. What confused me was where he had hid all the apples as he surely wouldnt go back to find them. How he had followed me to almost above treeline where the woods would be unnatural to him compared to the lower elevations. Or so I assume, again im no chipmunk expert here. I just simply could not believe what was happening. I had realized during these 4 miles that he was not scared of me per say. I was a visitor in HIS home. Not the other way around. To him, I was probably just a food source. To me, he was a friend. To us, we were one in the same place. At least for a little while anyhow. Our time came to an end but the memory, in combination with the entirety of my day, has never left. I had stopped at a water source to refill and as fast as he came, he went.

Basking in the glory of my chipmunk whispering, a new found friendship, and my eventful day I decided that the pond I would be coming across shortly would be a great place to have a decent meal.IMG_20150901_153249900_HDR.jpg I had heard there were some canoes on the shore that needed to be patched but made a perfect picnic table in the mean time until they were. The hike to the pond was relatively flat and muddy. Along the way I had seen many of tracks. Deer and moose mostly with some bigger bird tracks, i assume turkey. There they were, the canoes. So pleasantly placed beside them was a hose coming from the ground that was spitting fresh, cold mountain spring water. I dont think I had ever been so happy. I love mountain water… I am always carrying my sawyer filter, but when the opportunity arises… as a local Mainer familiar with springs…. i jump. There is nothing better than fresh mountain water and when it hit my lips… *sigh* what a treat. I decided to have the oatmeal I was dreading. Mainly in due part of the fact that I was almost out of food and my interest in the chipmunk has used at least a handful of snacks that I was supposed to be rationing. It was just then nature gave me the most appreciated treat of all. I had just lit my stove and placed water atop the flame when I had heard a splash. It took me a minute but as I had scanned the pond I saw water fly and heard another splash. How unaware I was that only 50 yards away, play a moose. Diving his snout into the water only to quickly take it out. With him came fountains of water and ….grass? Now again here, im no animal expert, but with my own eyes I made the assumption after many more minutes that he was playing. He was reaching down, picking out the grass and tossing it into the air, like a dog with a new toy. I had literally been so mesmerized that when I had turned back to throw my oatmeal in the water it had nearly evaporated. I added a bit more water and threw my instant oatmeal in. Suddenly the oatmeal was irrelevant. For all I had known, I could have reached down and grabbed handfuls of dirt and it would have been no different to me. The moose had played throughout the entirety of my meal. Which was short I will admit, but seemingly it was a lifetime. He seemed as if to never notice me despite the noise I made prior to realizing I had company. At an instant I realized I needed a picture… I got into my pack and dug out my phone, turned it on and when i brought my phone up to snap a picture… nothing. Like the chipmunk before him, he just disappeared. While hanging my head in disappointment i noticed a large moose track… then several more… all of them heading straight into the pond he played.1011161225a.jpg I had practically followed him into the pond unknowingly. Part of me wished I had. I packed up and I continued on with the thought of my day clearly replaying in my head.


I learned plenty this day. Some of which I carry with me on an every day basis. Some of which I only carry on trail. For one… forget the fucking phone. As I sit contently at my computer typing this, only to contradict myself, I recall technology being the sole reason that I shorted myself time with the moose. Had I been content with the memory, i would not had wanted the photo. I learned to be patient. Had i acted upon my anger with the chipmunk, tossing rocks, screaming and swearing … he might not have been curious enough to know me. He might have scampered off long before he actually did. I learned to lighten up. My time under the oak tree normally would have ruined my day. Mind you I had three days left and now no toilet paper. This time though… I was able to laugh it off. Being content kept me light on my feet and my spirits high. Both i believe were necessary for arriving at the pond at the most opportune time. I learned to slow down. 15 seconds slower, taking the time to be more aware, I might have gotten the chance to share time with him just for only a few moments longer. A few irreplaceable moments. I think most importantly however I learned this. No matter the preparation you put in, you can never predict the trail. One slip in the mud calls for wet feet on a dry day. One stumble could cost you your life regardless of how quick you are on your feet. One picture can cost you a memory. So I strongly urge you, that when you are there, be there. There is time for pictures, there is time for all emotion. Just pick your times and remember that no matter how many times you go through the same stretch of trail, it will never be the same. Also, never forget where you are. You are only a visitor to become part of nature. Nature is not ours… its everyones but. The chipmunks, moose and trees… its theirs. Until we realize that we are only but part of a bigger picture we will never fully appreciate whats there. Every bit of trash has an effect. Every noise is heard. In the end, we share nature with the ones whom call it home, but it is not in fact our home. IMG_20160731_203605.jpg


Hiking Is Not The Reason I Go Hiking

Where does one start when he tells another about how his passion was created. A passion that has engulfed him as a lifestyle and desire so strong that there isn’t an army in the world that could take it away from him. A passion so strong that it takes precedence over everything in his life besides that of whom he loves.

Where does one start when he tells another about how he is not in fact in love with his passion, but the reasons he participates in it. That hiking in itself is not the reason he goes hiking. Well….. he starts about 25 years ago.

When I was young, maybe as young as I can remember, anxiety has been a major issue. Through the years I had tried several medications, several ways of meditation and numerous, almost countless home remedies. Nothing prevailed. My anxiety in my younger years was worn on my shoulder. As far back as my memories go I refused to be surrounded by large groups. My mind raced like a thoroughbred’s heart at the end of a Kentucky Derby. My palms sweat causing me to constantly keep my hands in my pockets when I was anxiety ridden. My left leg taps when I stand or sit. My eyes are constantly on the go and I have always had a hard time focusing on what was in front of me, always searching the room to make sense of every sound and smell i perceived to be out-of-place. Or in place for that matter. My anxiety was at a point that even my parents, peers, teachers, and family could see it. It came without notice for no apparent reasons and it ran my entire life. I could not participate in sports teams because I would freeze long before i stood in front of a crowd to play. I refused, with stubbornness, to attend family dinners and anything that put me in the center of attention. I was not present for any of my boy scout badges and did not go to my 8th grade graduation.anx1

My anxiety through and through was an issue albeit an issue that everyone ELSE was trying to solve. I was just trying to take myself out of the places that caused it and alleviate the things from my life that presented it. When others were trying to fix it, i found it made it worse. The attention they gave me trying to talk to me about my issues was in fact the exact thing I did not want.

Some years into my anxiety, and somewhere in between not knowing what it was and finding a solution, i decided I wanted to learn about it. I knew at this point it was unhealthy, as the only time I would throw myself into social situations was when there was a great chance that I would be the only one there, or I was medicated. The medications were a problem all on their own. We never found the fine line although knew there was one. To medicate my anxiety they gave me anti depressants. I was a lot of things, but depressed just was not one of them. In my previous posts I have shared that some of the things in my life subsided my extreme emotions, like depression. I, for a long time, have been a very neutral person when it comes to emotions. Anyhow, too little medication and my anxiety would ramp up. Too much and I would experience mood swings, insomnia, lucid dreaming and an artificially created sense of trust and benefit of the doubt. If i knew one thing to start, it’s that I was definitely not going to live my life on the medications I was told I would need to.


So to recap my adventure… The first thing that developed was a loathing for any medication that was man-made and artificial. That led me into researching the body and its mind. My research started with dreaming. I wanted to understand my subconscious mind first. When I was researching dreaming i found its relevance and importance. I became infatuated with their messages and wanted to learn to dream consciously. I knew that the medications that were giving me lucid dreams were in fact creating their own context and my dreams at that point were no longer based off of my own context. The context of the subconscious that your dreams are based upon, giving them relevance in your life whether we do or do not see it. I found through my research of dreaming absolutely nothing in regards to my anxiety. Except one of the more important things I have ever discovered in my life. I wanted to dream and I wanted to understand them. Which in the end simply supported the fact that I did not want to subside my anxiety with medications that would change the chemical balance of my conscious and subconscious.

Next, I decided to learn specifically about anxiety. The first term I came across was “disorder”. HA! Disorder you say? There was no way I was buying that. Turns out, anxiety is one emotion that is less controllable and predictable than all others. However, in the end, it’s just an emotion. I knew at this point that emotions could be manipulated, so how in fact would I manipulate the one in which is 99% manipulated through substance. Yeah I didn’t learn much here either.


So upon discovering that anxiety was an emotion I decided to look into the mind again, however this time on a different level. The research I had done on dreaming had also led me to be curious about the mind as a whole. Oooohhhh what an amazing thing it is… but let’s be honest, neuroscience was not something I would be mastering in at 16 years old. I did find one thing that changed a lot for me….. the mind was mine. It wasn’t yours, and it wasn’t artificial. It was mine and mine only, and I had the ability to control it. I might not have known how to use that ability, and still don’t to a point, but I knew it was possible. That is when I found meditation.

Meditation was something I came across that intrigued me. Controlling consciously your thoughts… your state of mind…. your emotions and even down to the physical effects your body had on itself such as heart rate, core temperatures, oxygen intake, sleep requirements etc. I remember specifically this point in my endeavor. I remember it because I had found myself laughing and thinking, “How in all fucks does someone who can’t focus because of anxiety, alleviate it by focusing?” A solution that would come long after now. Turns out when you read about meditation, you come across a shit ton of pictures with people sitting crossed legged and their eyes closed. Queue humming noise. Yeeeahhhhhhhh, that was DEFINITELY going to work. NOT! I couldn’t sit still when I was in a good place, let alone a bad one. Have you ever tried to reach full meditation with a shaking leg? It somewhat defeats the idea. No, it definitely defeats the idea. In all of my reading, i came across several alike terms: “Put yourself in a happy place”, “relax your body completely”, “breathe deeply”. Like, oh you want me to fucking hyperventilate while I am doing this, because that’s what having my eyes closed is going to do. When these eyes close, there is no relaxing unless im going to sleep. Instead i am overwhelmed with a sense of not knowing what is coming up behind me… or not knowing whats standing directly in front me… the lack of surety I get when I close my eyes consciously is over powering. Put myself into a happy place? Relax? Hahahah, well i think this is about the point I realized that meditation was not MY solution albeit a valiant effort or three.


Then, I found it, or so I thought. After reading about a man named Osho, i read about, what he called, Rajneesh Dhyan Yoga. When his methods were adopted in the Indian mountains, his methods of would be translated to english. It would then be called, “DYNAMIC MEDITATION”. Dynamic Meditation by definition is “a form of meditation in which physical activity is present”. That’s like showing a poor man a sign that says “Uncooked food.”. Well you can be damned sure that a poor man will find a way to cook that food as his problem is hunger not the fact he is lacking an oven. Just because he can’t eat, doesn’t mean he cant cook. I have no problem being active, I just cant meditate. Not as the books were showing me. Now here was the problem with the magic words I had found. They never told me how to meditate. They told me what active meditation was and I was aware of Osho’s methods. These mainly consisted of spiritual dances. Well, I was far from spiritual and I cannot dance for shit, so for the time being, I threw that right out the window.


Bare with me here, im getting to it. SO, through my younger years my anxiety caused me to experience anger. Anger was the emotion that I subconsciously turned my anxiety into. Through some trial, but mostly error, I learned about myself that I was great at being angry although I did not want to be. This would come to my advantage in my later years, and would encourage me to be more kind, passionate, conscious and passive than I once thought I could be, but not without a long learning curve attached. Anyways, when I got angry, I could hold that anger with me for days at a time. I would stew on it until I either did something about it or forgot about it. Hahaha, we are talking anxiety here folks, not Alzheimer’s, so forgetting about it wasnt actually an option. Well you can only act on your anger but a handful of times before someone or everyone has had just about enough. My time was coming for this and I knew that. I had sat back and reflected a bit …. I reflected on the days I was putting in two work outs. One in the morning and one in the evening. I was constantly in the gym as I had found mixed martial arts as a hobby to try to alleviate my anger. Turns out, it didn’t, because my anger was not derived from the same places yours might be and physical violence did nothing for me emotionally when it was expected and not derived from my anxiety. It did not create or alleviate any emotion, anger included. In fact, it had no emotional effect on me, it was simply something to do. I did realize however that on the days I was putting in two workouts, i was entirely depleted. Every other day, i would get up early and I would put in a normal work out. After school, I would go back and I would physically deplete myself. Pushing to failure in all of my sets. Those nights, even though I did not know it yet, I would go home in peace, and dream with the fairy tales, leaving my anxiety wherever I was leaving it, but I didnt care because I was not taking it with me. Upon realizing this I had come to a theory. An unhealthy one possibly, but one in which I still use to this day. When in fact I physically, and completely, depleted my body , my anxiety would subside. Mainly due in part to the inability to create and ponder thoughts. So how does one put ones self through such torment just to subside an emotion. That’s like waterboarding a child so they learn not to fear fire. All this revelation did was teach me that, if im anxious, i was going to have a seriously shitty night physically. Now i had two things NOT to look forward too. How fantastic huh?!


So back to my first story…. and skipping ahead a few years… Here I am at the end of my first 106 mile hike. A hike in which I carried a small adult sized backpack the entire way due to a lack of experience and knowledge. Well, i can tell you, surer than shit, that I was depleted. I had NOTHING left in me, but my friends let me just tell you something. I felt GOOOOOOD!!!! Man did i ever feel good. Hell, I had NEVER felt that good. Spite my physical pan, my golf ball sized blisters, my blood blistered shoulders and hips…. i felt absolutely fantastic emotionally. A bit hungry, which to me is as good as an emotion, but that was about it. The revelation is coming…..

At the end of my hike I was so hungry, and as I had mentioned I decided to stop at the highly suggest ABOL STORE and grab myself some even more highly suggest pizza that they make. Now this fantastic little store, as I would find out, is filled with passer bys picking up last-minute supplies. Also, it’s a small store putting you in close contact with others while you browse. I got my pizza and spoke with the cashier that assured me I had several miles ahead of me before I reached an opportune place to stick my thumb out and catch a ride south.


Now if there are a few things that amp my anxiety to a maximum… its frustration, and people. I was frustrated that after 106 miles, considering the physical pain i was in, that I would I have to embark on another 8 mile hike. There were not tent spots open within in a similar amount of miles, it was dark, and I really just wanted to be home at this point. The people… well i just can’t stand having people behind me, especially if they are close enough to touch me. It is just a peeve of mine that came from a fair history of pissing people off that had no problem coming up behind you to reassure their revenge.

So a few miles down the road I found myself whistling. Whistling is something I actually do fairly often. Enough that I have heard “will you please stop whistling” more than 100 times in my life. Regardless of the negative nancies that don’t like my bird song, truth is I only whistle when im happy. Here was the revelation. It was this very moment I realized…. i was literally in a position just moments before and currently that would normally have both legs tapping and have me spinning in circles due to the levels of anxiety they would have caused. I had NONE. WHAT?! No anxiety? How could this be? Well, a couple of miles later I remembered the gym….

Finally I had realized it…..114 miles on foot will do that to a guy. I had just physically depleted my body in the most positive of ways. For more than a week I was the happiest, dirtiest, scratched legged, anxiety-less person you would meet. I was putting in 8-10 mile days (That’s funny to think about now… my morning run is 7 miles and i get back in under an hour)  that took me over 1-3 summits and pushing my body like it had never been pushed before…. I just didn’t know it. I was LOVING my hiking… and granted there were times where LOVING was NOT in my vocabulary on trail, but all in all I really enjoyed it. I had mentioned at the end of my story about my first hike that I knew hiking was what I wanted to do and I wanted to do more of it. All in part to this revelation. Now don’t get me wrong, I had my good trail days and my bad trail days but never once did I ever have anxiety during them. The facts were that I was physically depleting my mind WHILE it was full of contemplated thoughts and emotions. As I hiked, I thought about EVERYTHING. Though, EVERYTHING, did not cause the anxiety that it did when i was sitting stale in an office or in my house the midst of my thoughts that would lead up to an effect. The effect being me seeking out a way to completely deplete my body to the point of full exhaustion. This in itself was worth all of its weight in unobtanium. Being able to ponder, not one, but all of my thoughts without the emotion of anxiety creeping in was something I had never experienced. I could finally, for the first time, think clearly and rationally about all the things that bothered me. I had a new set of eyes and I was not about to give it up.


I had to test my theory of course… skip ahead awhile, as when I got home from this one I REALLY needed to contemplate my systems. You carry 74 lbs for 100+ miles  and let me know how much you enjoy that. I needed to save weight and saving weight I was absolutely committed to . Here we are, some time later after diligent effots to understand backpacking materials, science, gear, and theories.

I am getting ready to hike the same section, except this time I will go south instead of north. I had my pack down to roughly 30 lbs and I had been hiking constantly. Short jaunts every night and on the weekends were a way to test my gear and understand what I did and did not need. Here I am stading on the summit of Mt. Katahdin thinking to myself “OK here we go!”.

Now this day was actually pretty clear, and opportune to say the least. I had just lost a friend in a terrible way and I could not get that out of my mind. I had watched him fatally overdose on an acquaintence’s bathroom floor. I could only watch helplessly with inexperience and in fear. I could still see it unfortunately and it was really taking a toll on my well being. I had felt a strong sense of guilt and sorrow. I was not used to being overwhelmed by emotions and had come to find that all of my emotions that I did not appreciate, in the end just turned into anxiety. Essentially the entire purpose to this specific hike was to understand what had happened just months before and to make sense, the best i could, of everything i didnt already understand. Which at the time, was just about all of it. I was in an odd position that I had never been in before. My anxiety this time was extreme. It was also created by something I did not want to remember, however I never wanted to forget. I think the reason this became relevant, is this time I was not hiking to alleviate my anxiety. Truly, I had forgotten all my revelations at this point. This time around, I was just hiking to get away. I was sick and tired of the “sorry’s” and condolences. I have this peeve with “sorry’s”. I think its what someone says when they dont know what to say. I believe at that point, its more powerful to say nothing than to fall on the bandwagon of the most commonly used term in ancient history. (not a fact). I just try to avoid sorry’s and live my life appreciating the choices I have made and even hearing the word “sorry” tends to aggravate me in most contexts. I was on a quest to be alone, and subconsciously i think I knew there would be a greater benefit.

Through my hike I learned a lot this time. Not so much about hiking as I had , for the time being, fine tuned most of it to the extent that my ability allowed at the time. Its easy to talk about now, but for a long time i stayed in silence about my thoughts. I had thought about everything! I replayed that night in my head so many times and started to slowly understand the why’s and how’s. I no longer felt guilt and my sorrow had switched. I no longer was upset I had lost a friend, but upset that his family lost a son. I no longer felt guilty for not being able to help, but guilty that I had waiting long to even be in a position to need to help. I no longer was angry at him or myself. I now knew that I would not bury my thoughts of it deep down inside, but I would float them to the top periodically to remind myself how grateful I should be. To remind myself how important life is. To remind myself to be up front and honest with people even if their opinions differed. To remind myself that the term “friend” is used to loosely for my liking and to be more diligent about understanding people before i gave them my friendship and care. I would also float it to the top periodically to remind myself that my thoughts need not be overwhelmed, they just need time to be understood. With all that I learned, one thing stuck out. In the 106 mile (that I would this time complete in 3 nights and come out on the fourth day) hike that i embarked on, I understood my anxiety. I knew now that it came from a whirlwind of thoughts that were overwhelming me when presented all at once. I would learn that my anxiety would always be a part of me, and that it no longer would control my life. On the trail, as I pondered my thoughts, I did in fact have anxiety. It was then I knew, hiking didnt have anything to do with my anxiety, but it had everything to do with my thoughts. My THOUGHTS had EVERYTHING to do with my anxiety however, so hiking indirectly interrupted the correalation between the two.

As I hiked, my feet couldnt tap. I would learn to close my eyes and make sense of the sounds. I would learn to trust my intuition as to where those sounds were coming from and as to how close they were. I would learn to appreciate what I couldnt see more than what I could. The people were few and far between and one here and there in passing was actually a pleasure not a pain. I would be so tired at the end of the day that a good nights rest was the ONLY thing I would be getting. I had TIME to ponder my thoughts as opposed to receiving 1000 of them at once and only a minute to react… Now I had the opportunity to take 10,000 thoughts and give them each their own minute. A minute per thought was all it took. I just needed to slow myself down long enough to make sense of things, and with the whirlpool of thoughts topped with an obligatory feeling to react, I was never able to make that sense in the past.


My anxiety in fact would never leave me. I still tend to go on limit pushing runs that have me crawling literally into the driveway late at night when I can’t sleep. I did find that it would always be a part of me. Well, unless some chemical imbalance becomes balanced, but for now im counting on always experiencing it. However, that is in fact the difference now. Now I get to experience it for what it is. I can still ponder my thoughts when it comes. No matter how bad it gets I know that the woods are only a step away. If it becomes to much I now know that I can meditate to gather my thoughts and no you need not hummmmm it off. The woods is the one place where everything is ok. THAT is why I hike.