If I walk every white blaze and climb all mountains,
but have not love, I gain nothing, I am nothing.
If I can outwalk everyone, carrying no more than
a daypack and sneakers, but have not love,
I am a fool and greatly deceived.
If I walk all trails and can identify all plants,
but have not love, the Truth evades me and my words,
they are as the clanging cymbal.
"We would love each other better if only we understood."
Glad you like it Hammock Hanger.
A great truth> Happy Holiday> Cowboy
This poem is based on the idea that people walk the entire AT while hating it? How can anyone undertake such a task of thru-hiking without love?
Since the effort takes $$ and months of time without tangible payback (except Bill Bryson who did it to sell his book), it seems to me that everyone who walks the AT does it out of love some sort. Love of hiking, love of outdoors, love of accomplishemnt, love of fellowship, love of adventure, etc etc etc
If a person has the interest to know all the plants on the AT, can this person walk the entire trail, identifying all the plants as she goes, without feeling love or joy?
Same for the white-blazer and slack packer of your poem. All hikers who walk by white blazes (all or most of them) or carry a slack pack (frequently or seldom) are free agents and doing exactly what they want to do.
When they stop loving it, they get off the trail. But even then they loved it while they were doing it.
I think most AT hikers follow the concept of the Happy Wanderer:
The Happy Wanderer
I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
My knapsack on my back.
I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"
I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev'ry green wood tree.
High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o'er the world we roam.
Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!
All this said, I do think your poem speaks to a sad truth about the AT. In trail journals, in shelters and on this list, many have the attitude:
"I wouldn't love XYZ, so if you do it you must not love what you're doing,"
where you can substitute white-blazing, slack packing, blue blazing, flip flopping, town-staying, not staying inn towns, high mileage, low mlieage etc for XYZ.
I think everyone who hikes the AT, however they do it, loves what they are doing. I don't think much love or tolerance is shown them by people who have different ideas of hiking. Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps only the vocal ones are intolerant, and the vast silent majority not only say HYOH but actually believe it.
I like that idea better.
It's really a myth. Hike your own hike as long as it is the hike everyone else is doing, which of course is impossible.
There is a lot of competion and comparisons going on out there.
But ya know what... It's still great fun. Get involved in the debates you like sit back and ignore or just listen to those you don't.
There's no better place to be, for me....
Kyle & Lisa
Hey, Israel--didn't somebody named Paul say something like that to the Corinths?
Truth be told--love is everything--no matter what you're doing.