thoughts on hiking

walking on the lake at sundown-00775

reprise (see notes on traveling with a backpack from 2013 — all of which still held true this time, too!)

thoughts on hiking/backpacking, unedited.

  1. are you a little bit afraid of what lies ahead? good, that means you’re doing the work you need to do.
  2. gorge yourself on all the online personal accounts of what it’s like to hike a trail. then forget it all, because it will be different for you.
  3. have hope for the future. anticipate it. but don’t let it stop you from enjoying the present.
  4. learn to improvise.
  5. go at your own pace if possible. this is not a competition.
  6. your body will be different as you get older. listen to it, it’s ok if walking takes longer. be kind to yourself.
  7. rocks are very useful for holding tent stakes down.
  8. laugh.
  9. always bring a snack. practice making it last longer. save some for the uphill climbs.
  10. i’ve never had short hair while completing a thru-trail hike until now, and it is AWESOME. no dreads this time, +++
  11. perform small rituals to grow as a person. here, while out of the way of connectivity with the world, take the time to connect with yourself.
  12. hiking to lose weight never works because afterward all you want is cookies and cake and you also feel like “f*ck it, I deserve it”
  13. meet other travelers. talk to them. learn things about the land, the country, the animals (or lack thereof). ask questions.
  14. bring a notebook. write your thoughts down.
  15. read at night. it feels like a luxury.
  16. don’t be too proud to ask for help.
  17. if you can’t sleep, it’s still pretty amazing to walk outside at 3am and see nothing but land and sky and remaining (or impending) light.
  18. don’t drink too much water before bed because it might be freezing outside and you’ll have to suffer the “do i get out of my sleeping bag or hold it?” dilemma.
  19. note to self: a fanny pack would be really awesome next time.
  20. pack less than you want to. but recognize the small luxuries that will be worth their weight.
  21. you will not feel clean. and that’s ok.
  22. bring really good socks of different colors. even when dusty, they will make you happy. and you’ll be able to tell them apart!
  23. don’t worry, everyone else’s socks smell just like yours do.
  24. don’t be anxious, be prepared.
  25. wear your f-in’ sunscreen!
  26. keep your receipts.
  27. figure out the humidity so you know how quickly (or slowly) your stuff will dry.
  28. indulge when it’s in front of you. cake is cake. you quickly learn the value of cake when it’s offered to you in the middle of nowhere.
  29. ziploc bags are super-duper handy.
  30. go with someone you love talking to, but with whom you can also be silent comfortably.
  31. … preferably also someone who will belt out Disney songs with you on the last stretch!
  32. have a reward waiting for you. a meal, a song, dessert, puffins, cartwheels, whatever floats your boat.
  33. put down your backpack when you arrive at camp. go for a walk, and marvel at how light you feel.
  34. just when you think the last landscape *had* to be the MOST-BEAUTIFUL-and-best-thing-on-this-earth and there is no way anything can top it — a new one comes into view and takes your breath away. meaning, it will all be ok. leave your past behind you. take a photo. remember it, carry it with you because you are human and to be human means you must carry it. but go forward, knowing that the next turn will bring you joy and be every bit as beautiful in a different way.


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  1. Pingback: Hiking the Laugavegur Trail in Iceland – rose in midair

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