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chronicler
11-18-2008, 02:19
I've heard heard that some sizable percentage of people (maybe 10%) of people who hike the AT do so for religious or spiritual reasons. This includes all kinds: Christian Missionaries, recovering alcoholics in search of a higher power, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Born Agains, Muslims, and various other pilgrims of all kinds. I find this fascinating, and inspiring.

What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety).

A little bit about me: I spent some time as Buddhist monk in Burma (for a brief time), and spent another 6 months in Bodh Gaya, India, learning walking meditation. The "long green tunnel" is, for me, an opporunity to more closely observe myself and my surroundings, to live in the everchanging present. In doing so, i hope to watch those constructed identities (self, other, nature) break down, if only in some small way. If there's a modicum of clarity and peace and balance out there in the woods, I want to find it. (Plus I have always loved the Appalachians, ever since I was nine or ten years old...)

How about you?

Note-Poll was developed by member Tom Alan and later added w/permission of OP-Alligator

Father Dragon
11-18-2008, 02:36
If there's a modicum of clarity and peace and balance out there in the woods, I want to find it.

How about you?

there's no zen in the mountains except for what you bring:jump

Marta
11-18-2008, 07:09
Welcome to Whiteblaze, Chronicler!

To me, hiking is a gigantic Be Here Now experience.

DDuhon
11-18-2008, 07:19
I have always thought of hiking as in part a walking meditation, one foot in front of the other, getting into a groove. David

fiddlehead
11-18-2008, 07:25
I certainly hike to get closer to nature.

Lone Wolf
11-18-2008, 07:26
i hike for buffets

Egads
11-18-2008, 07:29
Never met anyone hiking for spiritual reasons. Everyone I know hikes for the sensory stimulation

Summit
11-18-2008, 08:01
I seek to be closer to God in all that I do, including hiking. I find myself naturally praising God more when appreciating His awesome creation while backpacking.

aaroniguana
11-18-2008, 08:05
I hike to get away from people who knock on my door asking for money for Jesus. Jesus doesn't need my money.

Jay B.
11-18-2008, 09:02
Just one word to add to Summit: AMEN!!!

rafe
11-18-2008, 09:09
i hike for buffets

Wouldn't it be easier to drive? Or ride a bike? :-?

Homer&Marje
11-18-2008, 09:11
Atheist. Hike to get away from people. But, hike for whatever reasons you want. I feel closer to nature when I am in the woods. Because I am closer to nature.

Homer&Marje
11-18-2008, 09:11
Wouldn't it be easier to drive? Or ride a bike? :-?


But you won't be as hungry.

Gray Blazer
11-18-2008, 09:12
A good buffet can be a religious experience.

Crazy Larry #1
11-18-2008, 09:18
When I first began to hike I was just running away from life and its problems. As I walked I realized there was something bigger. As I walked a little more I began to see me as I really am. And then I met Him........

Gumbi
11-18-2008, 09:46
I agree with Summit!

bloodmountainman
11-18-2008, 09:58
We live in a fast paced world that is full of artificial stimulation. We have lost a connection with the natural world with all of our techno toys and gadgets. Many of our young today view this artificiality as the real world.
I have always fought against this, and have constantly searched out a separate reality. I find it while hiking, camping, hunting, fishing,canoeing, stargazing, etc. To me Nature is real. Man cannot replicate Nature in any meaningful way. Something greater than man has provided this separate reality. Being close to and participating with the natural world brings one closer to this "Greatness".:sun

Christus Cowboy
11-18-2008, 10:20
I seek to be closer to God in all that I do, including hiking. I find myself naturally praising God more when appreciating His awesome creation while backpacking.

I'm with Summit... for me there's a spiritual dimension to everything that I do and spending time in the backcountry allows me to sharpen my focus and reflect on my relationship with God. That said, I will repost an excerpt from an earlier post that I made related to this subject. In that post I said the following.....

I often wonder why I long to be out in the wilderness and backcountry for extended periods of time. I mean as a man, I love my wife and children and would miss them terribly if I was to remove myself from their company for a long time.....So why would I desire to engage in an activity that would result in loneliness in my life? A good question that Iím not sure I have a good answer for. I do think that part of it is the serenity that God brings to the soul of a man through the wilderness experience. I was reading in Isaiah 55:12-13 this morning where God tells us that He will allow the mountains and hills to break forth with shouts of joy and the trees of the field will clap their hands. I honestly believe that God sends us special "postcards" when we are out in the remote areas of His creation and we can experience Him in ways the normal societal environment will not allow. I remember climbing to the summit of Cloud Peak in the Big Horn Mountain range and looking at the vast mountain ranges and saying to myself that surely the finger of God has carved out these majestic mountains. So did the mountains shout for joy that day on Cloud Peak as the prophet Isaiah said? In many ways Iíd say so... While my human relationships play a critical role in who I am, I am of the belief that my wilderness experiences help me view God in a way that brings serenity in my life and helps make my human relationships more meaningful. Even though the downfall mankind messed up a whole lot of things in this world, God was very generous in what He chose to leave for us to experience.

I don't know if that answers your question but it's probably the best example that I can give you off hand to try to explain the spiritual impact that such journeys have in my life......

Red Hat
11-18-2008, 11:05
Summit summed up my feelings completely. Aaroniguana, I'm sorry that you had that experience, I've personally never had anyone knock on my door to get money for Jesus. You are so right, He doesn't need your money. I can't imagine anyone doing that. But, I have given money to "missionaries" asking for donations for various stores. Only God knows if they are legitimate, but if they are, I support them.

scope
11-18-2008, 11:45
there's no zen in the mountains except for what you bring:jump

Assuming "zen" is something personally defineable, then its definitely there in the mountains. I think Chronicler has it right, the mountains, the trail, etc. offer an opportunity for balance and clarity of thought. Lots of folks here talk about how it helps "clear their head" and its certainly a way to disconnect from the trappings of life in our "flat" world.

I'm not religious, but I do feel the spirit of God in them thar hills.

leeki pole
11-18-2008, 12:11
Move to the country....buy 40 acres....cheap right now.....have 4 rescue dogs and 3 feral cats......walk 4 to 5 times a day....that's all the Zen you need...keeps me sane and when I get to the AT, that's icing on the cake...I thank my Maker every day for His creation...beauty is everywhere if you just look for it......:sun

Yahtzee
11-18-2008, 12:16
It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
St. Francis of Assisi (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/stfrancis153347.html)

I used to think people made up gods to explain hurricanes, floods and newborns dying. Provide some answer to the inherently unanswerable. Then I started hiking. And I found on some days my spirit was so high that I would find myself wanting to thank someone for how I felt. Wanted to thank whoever arranged the trees in the forest, created the Mountain Laurel, and formed Camel's Hump. Even tho reason tells me there is no one to thank, that feeling is there. Now, I wonder if people didn't create their gods just to give thanks to for the beauty of nature and all that it bestows on us.

itsallgoodchuck
11-18-2008, 12:18
I have never been religious. I dont really know what I want with my life so I have decided to thru-hike to hopefully learn about myself and others. I have hiked and camped before but not for long periods. I hope getting away from "real life" and its jobs, cars, mortgages, cell phones, whatever else people are worrying about these days, will help me decide what I want to do in my life and choose a path fo myself.
I hike to get closer to me and learn more about myself.

jersey joe
11-18-2008, 12:20
Hiking the AT is a great way to renew your spirit!

Spogatz
11-18-2008, 12:21
I started hiking to be able to take photo's of the landscape and waterfalls....

and then I hiked for the peace and quiet....

Now....


I just HIKE........

Lone Wolf
11-18-2008, 12:31
Then I started hiking. And I found on some days my spirit was so high that I would find myself wanting to thank someone for how I felt. Wanted to thank whoever arranged the trees in the forest, created the Mountain Laurel, and formed Camel's Hump.

that's just endorphins kicking in

Pedaling Fool
11-18-2008, 12:34
I have never been religious. I dont really know what I want with my life so I have decided to thru-hike to hopefully learn about myself and others. I have hiked and camped before but not for long periods. I hope getting away from "real life" and its jobs, cars, mortgages, cell phones, whatever else people are worrying about these days, will help me decide what I want to do in my life and choose a path fo myself.
I hike to get closer to me and learn more about myself.
That's great, but be a little advice. Hiking {for extenden distances/time}for most of us (there are exceptions - and I'm not one of them) sounds romantic and fun. However, after a week or two all that goes away and for many the repetative --and very mechanical-- act of walking DAY-AFTER-DAY is very BORING. That is why so many get off the trail. They will tell you they got off due to injury/finances, which for some are true, but for most it's just an excuse.

If you really want to get to know yourself you got to go through some very hard times. The longer you're on the trail the physical hardships decrease, yet the metal hardships--which are generally harder to deal with-- increase.

The reason so many do complete the trail is because the AT is more of a social thing and most rely on that; it's their friends that get them through it. Most don't find themselves.

Yahtzee
11-18-2008, 12:37
that's just endorphins kicking in
So very true, LW, but really no avoiding that part, thankfully. But it's not all endorphins. Sometimes, if you hit upon a good group of hikers at a good time and travel with them for a bit, there can be days on end of life at its best. I can think of a few 3 day stretches that were like one long bliss session. Completely spiritual experiences.

itsallgoodchuck
11-18-2008, 12:51
That's great, but be a little advice. Hiking {for extenden distances/time}for most of us (there are exceptions - and I'm not one of them) sounds romantic and fun. However, after a week or two all that goes away and for many the repetative --and very mechanical-- act of walking DAY-AFTER-DAY is very BORING. That is why so many get off the trail. They will tell you they got off due to injury/finances, which for some are true, but for most it's just an excuse.

If you really want to get to know yourself you got to go through some very hard times. The longer you're on the trail the physical hardships decrease, yet the metal hardships--which are generally harder to deal with-- increase.

The reason so many do complete the trail is because the AT is more of a social thing and most rely on that; it's their friends that get them through it. Most don't find themselves.

Thanks, and you're right I have been thinking of this as well. I havent gone through many hardships but when I do I seem to pull through. It is not all a test or search for me, just telling that side of it for the discussion. I know the social and beauty side of things will help me, but I also hope to learn a lot about myself.

Blissful
11-18-2008, 12:56
I agree with Summit!


Agree with Gumbi, Red Hat, Christus Cowboy who agrees with Summit....
Oh, and also agree with Only Wanderer

:D

oldbear
11-18-2008, 12:57
Contrary to what the Summit and other have experienced I too had personal epiphanous moment while I was hiking But the difference is that my moment finally confirmed my Atheism
I was solo winter hiking in the Grand Canyon .I was at the western end of the Tonto Trail by Elves Chasm. Due to the uncertainty of water supplies I didn't carry a tent so I was sleeping out under the stars -a la Fletcher as it were.
Below me was the bottom of a long gone Cambrian Sea and two levels below that was the Great Unconformity with it's 1.2 billion years of missing depositional history
As I'm staring up at a star studded moonless night sky and basically running the numbers from Monty Python's Galaxy Song thru my head ;this incredible thought hits me; How utterly absurd it is to think that anybody or anything could have created what I was staring at or what I was sleeping on The inherent absurdity of the homo-centric god concept hit my funny bone at such a weird angle that I had to laugh out loud
I then realized that the real miracle of life on this planet is not that it is made by some god But rather that it is an accident. Granted that the possibilty of life existing on any planet is indeed small But that is precisely what makes it so precious
For those of you haven't yet heard it I leave you with this bit of morning music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcTHBOjnUss

Blissful
11-18-2008, 12:58
A good buffet can be a religious experience.


This is so true, in a country when we have so much, we can definitely have a reason to give thanks...

Pedaling Fool
11-18-2008, 13:01
...What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety)...
How about you?
I also hear from many about the spiritual reasons for hiking. I donít get it. For me itís simply a way to make my body healthier. My thru-hike was the body overhaul and all subsequent hikes are tune-ups.

As for getting back to nature, just being surrounded by trees doesnít do it for me. When I want to feel awed by nature I think of the universe. And I donít need to go into the woods to feel that awe. I just go into my mind. I love to read about weird things like time travel, parallel universes, warping of space-timeÖThose thing are what makes me feel a reverence for nature, not a bunch of trees.

The History channel will be airing a program about parallel universes tonight at 9pm EST. Watching that will get me closer to nature than sitting in a tent.

http://www.history.com/schedule.do?action=daily&date=20081118&time=2100&timeZone=EST&x=19&y=4 (http://www.history.com/schedule.do?action=daily&date=20081118&time=2100&timeZone=EST&x=19&y=4)



.

weary
11-18-2008, 13:17
Atheist. Hike to get away from people. But, hike for whatever reasons you want. I feel closer to nature when I am in the woods. Because I am closer to nature.
Well, you got that one right, at least.

Tilly
11-18-2008, 13:24
that's just endorphins kicking in

Thanks LW for your deadpan humor, that one made me laugh out loud!

iesman69
11-18-2008, 13:28
Thank you oldbear!!!

scope
11-18-2008, 13:52
Contrary to what the Summit and other have experienced I too had personal epiphanous moment while I was hiking But the difference is that my moment finally confirmed my Atheism
I was solo winter hiking in the Grand Canyon .I was at the western end of the Tonto Trail by Elves Chasm. Due to the uncertainty of water supplies I didn't carry a tent so I was sleeping out under the stars -a la Fletcher as it were.
Below me was the bottom of a long gone Cambrian Sea and two levels below that was the Great Unconformity with it's 1.2 billion years of missing depositional history
As I'm staring up at a star studded moonless night sky and basically running the numbers from Monty Python's Galaxy Song thru my head ;this incredible thought hits me; How utterly absurd it is to think that anybody or anything could have created what I was staring at or what I was sleeping on The inherent absurdity of the homo-centric god concept hit my funny bone at such a weird angle that I had to laugh out loud
I then realized that the real miracle of life on this planet is not that it is made by some god But rather that it is an accident. Granted that the possibilty of life existing on any planet is indeed small But that is precisely what makes it so precious
For those of you haven't yet heard it I leave you with this bit of morning music
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcTHBOjnUss

Funny, in a similar moment, I'm grabbed by the thought that there must be a God. I don't do religion anymore, but hiking, among other things, has helped me realize I'm not atheist. HYOH and get whatever you get out of it. I think its OK to think you're going to get something out of it, like figure yourself out, and then end up with something else in the end. Isn't that life?

Christus Cowboy
11-18-2008, 14:05
Funny, in a similar moment, I'm grabbed by the thought that there must be a God. I don't do religion anymore, but hiking, among other things, has helped me realize I'm not atheist. HYOH and get whatever you get out of it. I think its OK to think you're going to get something out of it, like figure yourself out, and then end up with something else in the end. Isn't that life?

You know scope I run into alot of people on the trail who have had similar observations as you..... That is one of the interesting things about the trail is that you can run into a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, sharing a similar journey, often times the same goal, but yet coming away with something intensely personal and real. I think it is quite noteworthy that a variety of views are represented on this thread and the discourse is quite civil and refreshing... my compliments to all those who have posted up to this point......

D'Artagnan
11-18-2008, 14:23
I tend to treat my religion like my liquor: Both in moderation, willing to share if asked, and I don't force either on anyone else.

Summit
11-18-2008, 15:10
1.2 billion years of missing depositional history

How utterly absurd it is to think that anybody or anything could have created what I was staring at

I then realized that the real miracle of life on this planet is not that it is made by some god But rather that it is an accident. Granted that the possibilty of life existing on any planet is indeed smallI would propose that the "1.2 billion years of missing depositional history" would be in favor of a god rather than confirm there is none!

I think it's absurd to think that random chemical reactions could account for the diversity of life, the complexity of life, and the interdependencies of living things . . . ("possibility of life existing on any planet is indeed small") statisticians give the probably an empirical impossibility.

For me the equation "Nothing x Nobody = Everything" requires too much faith! :D :p

The Solemates
11-18-2008, 15:40
For me the equation "Nothing x Nobody = Everything" requires too much faith! :D :p

Agreed!

I'd rather believe that "Nothing x Somebody = Everything", but this too requires faith. But then again faith is a direct relational output.

BumpJumper
11-18-2008, 15:46
I hear voices:bse

Mags
11-18-2008, 16:22
I would propose that the "1.2 billion years of missing depositional history" would be in favor of a god rather than confirm there is none!




Agreed!

I'd rather believe that "Nothing x Somebody = Everything", but this too requires faith. But then again faith is a direct relational output.


This is about if you hike for spiritual or religious reasons. Not if there is a God (or another deity ) or not.

I'd hate to see a thread become another religious debate.

As for me...

I'll let a Colorado Trail journal entry say it:

There are many reasons why I go on these long backpacking trips; the beauty, the simplicity, the physical challenge.
Seeing a distant view. How a hot meal at the end of a day is so satisfying. Climbing to the top of a rise after many
miles of exertion. All reasons why I hike.

But the main reason, the reason that encompasses all of the above, is that these walks are wilderness pilgrimages. Rather than going to Mecca or The Way of St. James I am journeying to something less tangible. Katahdin, Manning or Durango are only end points in the journeys. The real destination is on the trail itself. Some of my fondest memories and experiences have been on these long walks. If these journeys are my pilgrimages than today I was in the cathedral. On Georgia Pass would see Mt. Guyot as the dominant peak. Could see the divide go on and on. It is a sight that confirms why I go on these wilderness pilgrimages. The sojourns in the mountains will be a part of me for a while yet to come.

Spiritual? Waxing poetic? A bunch of BS? All the above? :)

Who knows. All I know is that I am most content in the mountains for many reasons. Where I feel most at peace, most satisfied, and most alive.

Perhaps it is a failing on my part that I do not get the same sense in my daily life. But I think that is true for many people. St. Peter's square, or a fiery sermon from an Evangelical, or perhaps Shabbat all inspire people for something deeper. Something needed in our lives that goes beyond the every day.

For me it is not a gathering of people in a house of a god, but rather time spent in Nature.

YMMV.

IceAge
11-18-2008, 16:56
For me, hiking helps with "Right Concentration", one of the most personally taxing of the Eightfold Path.

I go into the woods to remind myself that I am not good at "multi-tasking", that it is better for me to concentrate on the task at hand, even if it just boiling water, and see that effort through to completion. When I don't do this, I forget things and end up uncomfortable. When I am alone in the forest, there is no safety net to fall back on, I must do my chores correctly and completely.

Plodderman
11-18-2008, 17:41
I am a minister and have hiked for 30 years. I usually take a week in June to hike 75 to 80 miles on the App. Trail. I like to get away and usually take my Bible and spend quite a bit of time in prayer. I like the outdoors and enjoy being able tolook up into the stars and see the magnificence of it all. Yes I hike for peace of mind and getting alone with God.

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 18:41
Like Summit I also try to be close to God in all I do. Walking the trail gives me a chance to talk to God. More important it gets rid of the distractions that keep me from listening to God.

aaroniguana
11-18-2008, 18:48
This is about if you hike for spiritual or religious reasons. Not if there is a God (or another deity ) or not.

I'd hate to see a thread become another religious debate.

Agreed. I apologize if I offended anyone. Some days (ok most) I fire blindly and have no muzzle control whatsoever.

I hike for spiritual reasons but I am not a Christian.

Summit
11-18-2008, 18:51
This is about if you hike for spiritual or religious reasons. Not if there is a God (or another deity ) or not.

I'd hate to see a thread become another religious debate.

Interesting that you cite a response to the initial violator (oldbear) rather than the initial violator. Probably has to do with which side of the God / No God table you sit on! :eek:

I make it a point around here not to start religious debates, but I will always respond to mis (or bad) information given by one who does.

Now then . . . I agree with you that it would be a shame to have this thread locked down because it becomes a religious debate. That means that non-believers are ALSO responsible for not taking it there, as 'oldbear' did. ;)

Mags
11-18-2008, 19:03
Summit,

Yours was just the most recent. As I was typing my response, noticed another one. I tend to scan these threads at times and honestly did not read all the responses. Since you, quite honestly, have a habit of turning these threads into religious diatribes, I read yours closely.

You can make an issue out of it (which you are planning on doing) or simply share your experiences as other devout Christians have done as well. Minus the political diatribes. That goes for non-believers, too. As a wise man once said "Turn the other cheek"

Nature is a place of peace. Not strife.

weary
11-18-2008, 19:17
I've heard heard that some sizable percentage of people (maybe 10%) of people who hike the AT do so for religious or spiritual reasons. This includes all kinds: Christian Missionaries, recovering alcoholics in search of a higher power, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Born Agains, Muslims, and various other pilgrims of all kinds. I find this fascinating, and inspiring.

What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety).

A little bit about me: I spent some time as Buddhist monk in Burma (for a brief time), and spent another 6 months in Bodh Gaya, India, learning walking meditation. The "long green tunnel" is, for me, an opporunity to more closely observe myself and my surroundings, to live in the everchanging present. In doing so, i hope to watch those constructed identities (self, other, nature) break down, if only in some small way. If there's a modicum of clarity and peace and balance out there in the woods, I want to find it. (Plus I have always loved the Appalachians, ever since I was nine or ten years old...)
How about you?
Given the nature of the enquiry, everyone who responded is right. chronicler asked what were our individual spiritual experiences while hiking the trail, or I guess by inference, any trail.

Though as a child I was a fervent Christian. At the age of 11, I couldn't believe that the whole tent, including my parents and siblings, didn't march to the front and accept the pleadings of the evangelical preacher offering to save us.

I got up -- and then sat down -- when no one from our family-- and no one we seemed to know chose to do so. I was perceptive enough to realise that others might have knowledge that I lacked.

But over the years I continued to find trails a spiritual experience, when when lost in the Whites in the early 1940s. A jumble of wind blown trees from a late 30's hurricane blocked our trail. My slightly younger companion broke out in hives from fear. I found the experience exciting, lost in the wilderness. I wasn't trusting in God. I had seen the maps. I knew that if we kept going down, the trail was sure to emerge. It did.

I've been walking before and since, more or less. I've had many spiritual moments. Wild places, do that to me, even 250 acre wild places on a town land trust preserve.

But as the decades progress, I find it increasingly difficult to believe in a Christian God -- especially the God I heard extolled at the tent service, many, many years earlier.

If that God were a true God, I've thought, he certainly has a sense of humor. Leaving clam shells on the summit of mountains, curving solid granite into convouted shapes suggesting to those minds He created that the world had to be billions of years old, not the less than 7,000 that my childhood evangelist insisted was the truth. I like jokes -- but from a God. Come on.

Weary

Summit
11-18-2008, 19:24
Summit,

Yours was just the most recent. As I was typing my response, noticed another one. I tend to scan these threads at times and honestly did not read all the responses. Since you, quite honestly, have a habit of turning these threads into religious diatribes, I read yours closely.

You can make an issue out of it (which you are planning on doing) or simply share your experiences as other devout Christians have done as well. Minus the political diatribes. That goes for non-believers, too. As a wise man once said "Turn the other cheek"

Nature is a place of peace. Not strife.You should do your homework before you make accusations (i.e. who started what here). That way, you might get it right, and we could be making peace and not strife. :) Regarding your bold statement above, as I said, I don't start them but I certainly will correct misinformaton started by people intending to demean my beliefs. If that qualifies as 'religious diatribe' in your mind, have at it.

Now to be non-partisan mags, you should go after 'weary' too . . . shouldn't you?

Mags
11-18-2008, 19:31
Now to be non-partisan mags, you should go after 'weary' too . . . shouldn't you?


He posted after I did I'm afraid. I am hoping you all will mind yourself a bit, Weary included. But, his statement seems more stating an opinion (For me..xyz), rather than stating a fact. See the difference?

But rather than have another pointless argument, I will post more about the topic. if you want to argue with me, please PM me. If you want to post about finding God in the beautiful mountains, lakes and forests, I'd love for you to share it. It is afterall what this thread is about.

Much more interesting than yet another thread about water filters, stoves or dogs who talk on cell phones.


Thanks!


From my journal. This is from February 2007 on a ski trip before I started work again after the CDT


The day was simply magical. Fresh powder weighing the branches down. Untracked trails. The feeling that we were skiing in a wilderness cathedral. Quiet, beautiful and awe inspiring. Only the sound of our skis moving along, the slight wind rustling through the branches and the subtle sound of falling snow hitting the ground were heard. A mood was created that can best be described as reverent. I am not a religious person. But I can't help but feel in awe when I am in experiencing nature in this manner. I don't need to pray. I don't need to go to a formal place of worship. The creation around me is enough. Enjoying the natural wonder of the world is my form of worship.

And skiing in quiet, in awe and in reverence make me feel more spiritual and more connected than any sermon I could hear on Sunday.

Many people I know in Boulder pay much money to on retreats for new-age type religions. Give me that old time religion of being in nature. There is no ritual, no pretense and no formalities to follow. Just a a joy at being in the woods on a beautiful snowy day.

I don't just love the wilderness, I need it in my life. Be it for months or on a snowy day in February, the love of wilderness is where I am my most spiritual.

Let others have their retreats in Zen monastaries; or worship in a special building every weekend. I will take the wilderness. The raw and the sublime. The majestic and the subtle. The wilderness is my cathedral. And on snowy days on skis, I can't think of a better place to experience this spirituality.

http://bp1.blogger.com/_B-SpheviBfA/RedOxPVIPdI/AAAAAAAAAHA/uM_sn5l6mCc/s400/afb.jpg (http://bp1.blogger.com/_B-SpheviBfA/RedOxPVIPdI/AAAAAAAAAHA/uM_sn5l6mCc/s1600-h/afb.jpg)

bloodmountainman
11-18-2008, 19:32
Take it easy fellows..... We all have our beliefs and reasons for hiking. Let's all discuss without the back-biting. I've enjoyed reading these posts.
Good thread that should not go bad.

Skidsteer
11-18-2008, 19:35
You should do your homework before you make accusations (i.e. who started what here). That way, you might get it right, and we could be making peace and not strife. :) Regarding your bold statement above, as I said, I don't start them but I certainly will correct misinformaton started by people intending to demean my beliefs. If that qualifies as 'religious diatribe' in your mind, have at it.

Now to be non-partisan mags, you should go after 'weary' too . . . shouldn't you?

If you wish to defend your religion against imagined slights then you're on the wrong website.

If, instead, you wish to persuade people to follow Christ by your actions and attitudes, then this thread seems like a good place to gather honest perspectives from the people you think need saving. So take notes or something but stop with the combative bull****.

woodsy
11-18-2008, 19:52
chronicler: What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, No
or to nature?Yes
(Do you see a distinction there?) NO

Summit
11-18-2008, 19:54
If you wish to defend your religion against imagined slights then you're on the wrong website.

If, instead, you wish to persuade people to follow Christ by your actions and attitudes, then this thread seems like a good place to gather honest perspectives from the people you think need saving. So take notes or something but stop with the combative bull****.I guess you call "How utterly absurd it is to think that anybody or anything could have created what I was staring at or what I was sleeping on The inherent absurdity of the homo-centric god concept hit my funny bone at such a weird angle that I had to laugh out loud" an imagined slight? You insult your own intelligence.

Now, pass the zen and I'll take a spoon full of karma, and get out my notebook! :D

Mags
11-18-2008, 20:00
Summit, you have this beautiful sig line:

"The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known."


How about sharing a story where you found this to be true? Perhaps sharing a favorite photo that really illustrated this belief you?

As I look through my journals, I find many example of how being in nature "wowed" me.

Many of us would like to hear it from you.

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:05
Nature is a place of peace. Not strife.
That depends on weather you are a wolf or a rabbit. I don't think nature is very peaceful for those down the food chain.

Mags
11-18-2008, 20:07
That depends on weather you are a wolf or a rabbit. I don't think nature is very peaceful for those down the food chain.

I never worried about that. Grizzly bears get indigestion from Italian food from what I understand....

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:10
I never worried about that. Grizzly bears get indigestion from Italian food from what I understand....
If you ever see a griz with rolaids run!!!

tom_alan
11-18-2008, 20:11
Taken at about 12,000ft around 8:30am. We were in an a-frame where we spent the night. It was snowing above us and raining below us.

http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/files/1/8/7/6/6/100_1304.jpg

Rockhound
11-18-2008, 20:17
"Religions must serve humanity, not the other way around." "What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful." "Sometimes religion becomes yet another source for more division and even open conflict. Because of that situation, I feel the different religious traditions have a great responsibility to provide peace of mind and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among humanity." "All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings." "Freedom is the real source of human happiness and creativity. Irrespective of whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, whether Buddhist, Christian, or Jew, the important thing is to be a good human being." Just thought I'd offer a few quotes on religion bythe Dalai Lama

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:25
"Religions must serve humanity, not the other way around." "What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful." "Sometimes religion becomes yet another source for more division and even open conflict. Because of that situation, I feel the different religious traditions have a great responsibility to provide peace of mind and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among humanity." "All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings." "Freedom is the real source of human happiness and creativity. Irrespective of whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, whether Buddhist, Christian, or Jew, the important thing is to be a good human being." Just thought I'd offer a few quotes on religion bythe Dalai Lama
Lets not go there. This thread is going down soon I bet.

Rockhound
11-18-2008, 20:28
go where?

Skidsteer
11-18-2008, 20:29
"Religions must serve humanity, not the other way around." "What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful." "Sometimes religion becomes yet another source for more division and even open conflict. Because of that situation, I feel the different religious traditions have a great responsibility to provide peace of mind and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among humanity." "All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings." "Freedom is the real source of human happiness and creativity. Irrespective of whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, whether Buddhist, Christian, or Jew, the important thing is to be a good human being." Just thought I'd offer a few quotes on religion bythe Dalai Lama

Okay. Tell us what that has to do with your reason(s) for hiking?


What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety).

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:30
go where?
Start quoting dali lama, I could start quoting the Bible and this thread gets lost. So lets not go there.

Rockhound
11-18-2008, 20:38
The person who started this thread said he was a Buddhist monk. I thought a few quotes by his holiness the Dalai Lama might be appropriate and noninflamatory. apparently not. sorry if I offended. It certainly was not my intent

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:39
The person who started this thread said he was a Buddhist monk. I thought a few quotes by his holiness the Dalai Lama might be appropriate and noninflamatory. apparently not. sorry if I offended. It certainly was not my intent
You're a good man rockhound.:sun:sun

Rockhound
11-18-2008, 20:40
If i wated to be inflamatory i might say something like God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts

Lone Wolf
11-18-2008, 20:41
Start quoting dali lama, I could start quoting the Bible and this thread gets lost. So lets not go there.

it's already lost. it will be shut down before long

Rockhound
11-18-2008, 20:44
and my reason for hiking Skidsteer, most simply put, would be freedom

Lone Wolf
11-18-2008, 20:46
and my reason for hiking Skidsteer, most simply put, would be...

beer, babes, buffets and the occaisional view

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:48
beer, babes, buffets and the occaisional view
That's what I like about you LW, you are so deep.

superman
11-18-2008, 20:49
I've heard heard that some sizable percentage of people (maybe 10%) of people who hike the AT do so for religious or spiritual reasons. This includes all kinds: Christian Missionaries, recovering alcoholics in search of a higher power, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Born Agains, Muslims, and various other pilgrims of all kinds. I find this fascinating, and inspiring.

What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety).

A little bit about me: I spent some time as Buddhist monk in Burma (for a brief time), and spent another 6 months in Bodh Gaya, India, learning walking meditation. The "long green tunnel" is, for me, an opporunity to more closely observe myself and my surroundings, to live in the everchanging present. In doing so, i hope to watch those constructed identities (self, other, nature) break down, if only in some small way. If there's a modicum of clarity and peace and balance out there in the woods, I want to find it. (Plus I have always loved the Appalachians, ever since I was nine or ten years old...)

How about you?

Are you on some kind of Llama drugs? I leave the god crap to my sister. The woods are the woods, hiking is just hiking. If you want more clarity get a HD tv.

Skidsteer
11-18-2008, 20:49
and my reason for hiking Skidsteer, most simply put, would be freedom

Works for me.

sheepdog
11-18-2008, 20:52
In 3, 2 .......

weary
11-18-2008, 20:53
"Religions must serve humanity, not the other way around." "What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful." "Sometimes religion becomes yet another source for more division and even open conflict. Because of that situation, I feel the different religious traditions have a great responsibility to provide peace of mind and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood among humanity." "All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings." "Freedom is the real source of human happiness and creativity. Irrespective of whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, whether Buddhist, Christian, or Jew, the important thing is to be a good human being." Just thought I'd offer a few quotes on religion bythe Dalai Lama
All religions arose from the same instinct, an instinctive belief that this world is not "all that there is."

I understand that instinct. But as my knowledge of the world grows, I increasingly suspect that my understanding, my approach to truth, may be the one truth -- and if it isn't, a wise God will not condemn those of us who use their God given minds to reach a contrary opinion from hers.

Weary

kayak karl
11-18-2008, 20:54
In 3, 2 .......
before its closed.
Psalm 139 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?are we hiking away or to him?

Summit
11-18-2008, 20:59
Summit, you have this beautiful sig line:

"The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known."


How about sharing a story where you found this to be true? Perhaps sharing a favorite photo that really illustrated this belief you?

As I look through my journals, I find many example of how being in nature "wowed" me.

Many of us would like to hear it from you.I think I did a while back, but being too lazy to search for it, here it is . . . true story:

I was doing about a 40 mile loop hike in Yosemite high counry on the PCT. I was camped at Smedberg Lake, near Benson Lake. This is labeled about the most remote place in Yosemite, two days' hike from the nearest trailhead.

It was a beautiful evening, so having finished dinner and cleaned up the 'kitchen' I scrambled up some adjacent rocks to my purrrrrfect campsite.

Now, this was years before I became a devout follower of Jesus. At that time in my life, circa 1986, I suppose I believed there was a God, but did not pay Him too much mind. I had not darkened the door of a church since I graduated from HS in 1968. So that's where I was, spiritually . . . probably slightly agnostic about the whole 'God thing.'

Well, I'm sitting up on my high rock perch, soaking in the gorgeous lake below, an awesome silhouette of mountains 360 degrees aground me, a pinkish red sunset growing more lovely by the minute. I'm in paradise. I'm euphoric. I'm beaming a smile that will not quit.

Then all of a sudden, what my signature line says actually happened! Not audibly, but it might as well have been. It was so real. The heavens cried out . . . the skies proclaimed His handiwork. All of the creation around me was screaming (unaudibly) at me that God was responsible for all this! Every hair on my body was standing straight out. I went from euphoria one moment to lying face down sobbing uncontrollably. In the Bible, wherever you read that the 'Spirit of God' appeared to anyone, they always fall face down on the ground. I didn't know what hit me. I was sitting, smiling at the scenery, and then I was on my face, prostrate on the ground. What was even more strange is it was the most joyful crying I had (and have) ever done. I was saying things out loud to myself like "how could I ever doubt you God. You created all this with your spoken word. Without him was not any thing made that was made." I was spouting out scripture that I didn't even know.

I was totally overcome, beside myself for about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes. As this 'spell' subsided, I slowly returned to normal, but never to look at nature, God's creation, the same again.

I wish I could say that when my hike ended I immediately began a life serving Jesus, but I didn't. It was just a seed sown (by God) until the time, His time, was right to bring me into His fold, several years later. But it was an experience as real today as it was then, and I will NEVER, EVER forget it.

Blessings to all WBers, believers and unbelievers alike! :)

Lone Wolf
11-18-2008, 21:02
endorphins once again

aaroniguana
11-18-2008, 21:05
Nope, still open. Even for acerbic curmudgeons like Superman.

Serial 07
11-18-2008, 21:13
reverence...that's the first word that comes to mind when i think about my spiritual connection with the trail...not only reverence for the creation of the awesome beauty that this planet has, but reverence for my existence and understanding...i remember thanking the universe 5 times a day for the ability to be out there and for the experience that is life...anybody having the ability to hike the A.T. is one lucky person...

i've been sitting here trying to think how the trail influenced my spiritual beliefs (i'm more a buddhist, one love :)) and it's hard to formulate anything but a verbose response...the trail showed me acceptance, patience, forgiveness, appreciation, honesty...a bunch of things that have greatly influenced my being now and will be with me for a long time...there are many ways and reasons to do the A.T. (or just being out in the woods), but, IMO, if you are a spiritual person by nature, the woods will only amplify that...

Christus Cowboy
11-18-2008, 21:35
The day was simply magical. Fresh powder weighing the branches down. Untracked trails. The feeling that we were skiing in a wilderness cathedral. Quiet, beautiful and awe inspiring......

.....the slight wind rustling through the branches and the subtle sound of falling snow hitting the ground were heard. A mood was created that can best be described as reverent.

You know I just got back from the Ridge Trail in Cumberland Gap National Park where I too experienced similar observations. I too saw an untouched blanket of snow in the backcountry of southwest Virginia and southeast Kentucky. I was awe-struck and humbled that God would send such a beautiful message of His handiwork for me to be a part of. It was quiet and I could hear the soft wind rustling through the trees and see the snow as it floated down to touch the earth and thus take its special place in God's creation.....a true demonstration of God's love for me.

You know it is interesting but Robert Frost once said....Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference....

For many of my friends both Christian and non-Christian, they have a hard time understanding what Robert Frost meant by those words. But to those of us who have traveled that road... the road less traveled, or those who have communed with God from the summit of a majestic mountain....or spoken to Him while out in the wilderness at night looking up at an unfolding blanket of stars too numerous to count....or listened to that mountain stream as it traveled its way through a beautiful winter scene as so vividly illustrated in the picture posted by Mags....

I believe the wilderness experience demonstrates that there is a purpose greater than ourselves and yet pulls us "God-ward" to be a part of what that purpose is....

In my life, that road less traveled usually follows a progression where societal responsibilities and the demands of civilization press down on me which in turn, creates within me a yearning to be with God. This yearning calls me to the solitude of the wilderness where faith and reflection produce a spiritual serenity in my life. Ultimately, spiritual serenity, gives way to a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness, which ironically leads to a lonliness for those human relationships that God has blessed my life with..... This condition facilitates my journey back, restored.... and renewed with a deeper love for my wife...my children... my friends at church and work.... a love that comes from God Himself......

Mags
11-18-2008, 21:47
Thanks for sharing all..good stuff.




a wise God will not condemn those of us who use their God given minds to reach a contrary opinion from hers.


Weary


That's nice and all...but talk more about a favorite place where you found your spiritualness....perhaps?. :)

Hooch
11-18-2008, 21:47
To me, hiking is a gigantic Be Here Now experience.Sounds distinctly Buddhist to me. Check out the Charlotte Community of Mindful Living. :D

Summit
11-18-2008, 22:26
In my life, that road less traveled usually follows a progression where societal responsibilities and the demands of civilization press down on me which in turn, creates within me a yearning to be with God. This yearning calls me to the solitude of the wilderness where faith and reflection produce a spiritual serenity in my life. Ultimately, spiritual serenity, gives way to a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness, which ironically leads to a lonliness for those human relationships that God has blessed my life with..... This condition facilitates my journey back, restored.... and renewed with a deeper love for my wife...my children... my friends at church and work.... a love that comes from God Himself......I only cut your post short to save space. You write things so beautifully. If you haven't written professionally, you should. Your ability to make your heart and soul come alive in written words is very, very rare!

God bless!

gaga
11-18-2008, 22:34
i hike because one day i hope to find BigFoot and i want to ask him what his diet is because his so big and strong, i`m just curious like that:banana

Mags
11-18-2008, 22:40
i hike because one day i hope to find BigFoot and i want to ask him what his diet is because his so big and strong, i`m just curious like that:banana

Look on the vegan thread. Plenty of experts on what makes someone big and strong on that one... :p

tom_alan
11-18-2008, 23:11
I think I did a while back, but being too lazy to search for it, here it is . . . true story:

I was doing about a 40 mile loop hike in Yosemite high counry on the PCT. I was camped at Smedberg Lake, near Benson Lake. This is labeled about the most remote place in Yosemite, two days' hike from the nearest trailhead.

It was a beautiful evening, so having finished dinner and cleaned up the 'kitchen' I scrambled up some adjacent rocks to my purrrrrfect campsite.

Now, this was years before I became a devout follower of Jesus. At that time in my life, circa 1986, I suppose I believed there was a God, but did not pay Him too much mind. I had not darkened the door of a church since I graduated from HS in 1968. So that's where I was, spiritually . . . probably slightly agnostic about the whole 'God thing.'

Well, I'm sitting up on my high rock perch, soaking in the gorgeous lake below, an awesome silhouette of mountains 360 degrees aground me, a pinkish red sunset growing more lovely by the minute. I'm in paradise. I'm euphoric. I'm beaming a smile that will not quit.

Then all of a sudden, what my signature line says actually happened! Not audibly, but it might as well have been. It was so real. The heavens cried out . . . the skies proclaimed His handiwork. All of the creation around me was screaming (unaudibly) at me that God was responsible for all this! Every hair on my body was standing straight out. I went from euphoria one moment to lying face down sobbing uncontrollably. In the Bible, wherever you read that the 'Spirit of God' appeared to anyone, they always fall face down on the ground. I didn't know what hit me. I was sitting, smiling at the scenery, and then I was on my face, prostrate on the ground. What was even more strange is it was the most joyful crying I had (and have) ever done. I was saying things out loud to myself like "how could I ever doubt you God. You created all this with your spoken word. Without him was not any thing made that was made." I was spouting out scripture that I didn't even know.

I was totally overcome, beside myself for about a half hour, maybe 45 minutes. As this 'spell' subsided, I slowly returned to normal, but never to look at nature, God's creation, the same again.

I wish I could say that when my hike ended I immediately began a life serving Jesus, but I didn't. It was just a seed sown (by God) until the time, His time, was right to bring me into His fold, several years later. But it was an experience as real today as it was then, and I will NEVER, EVER forget it.

Blessings to all WBers, believers and unbelievers alike! :)


You know I just got back from the Ridge Trail in Cumberland Gap National Park where I too experienced similar observations. I too saw an untouched blanket of snow in the backcountry of southwest Virginia and southeast Kentucky. I was awe-struck and humbled that God would send such a beautiful message of His handiwork for me to be a part of. It was quiet and I could hear the soft wind rustling through the trees and see the snow as it floated down to touch the earth and thus take its special place in God's creation.....a true demonstration of God's love for me.

You know it is interesting but Robert Frost once said....Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference....

For many of my friends both Christian and non-Christian, they have a hard time understanding what Robert Frost meant by those words. But to those of us who have traveled that road... the road less traveled, or those who have communed with God from the summit of a majestic mountain....or spoken to Him while out in the wilderness at night looking up at an unfolding blanket of stars too numerous to count....or listened to that mountain stream as it traveled its way through a beautiful winter scene as so vividly illustrated in the picture posted by Mags....

I believe the wilderness experience demonstrates that there is a purpose greater than ourselves and yet pulls us "God-ward" to be a part of what that purpose is....

In my life, that road less traveled usually follows a progression where societal responsibilities and the demands of civilization press down on me which in turn, creates within me a yearning to be with God. This yearning calls me to the solitude of the wilderness where faith and reflection produce a spiritual serenity in my life. Ultimately, spiritual serenity, gives way to a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness, which ironically leads to a lonliness for those human relationships that God has blessed my life with..... This condition facilitates my journey back, restored.... and renewed with a deeper love for my wife...my children... my friends at church and work.... a love that comes from God Himself......


Guys THIS IS SOME GREAT STUFF! I meet with a Promise Keepers group every Wednesday at noon. I feel this will make a GREAT devotion. Thanks!

God Bless You!

Slo-go'en
11-19-2008, 00:59
The original premiss of this thead is that maybe up to 10% of the people who hike the AT do it for spiritual or religious reasons. That would be 1 in 10. If this is so, these pilgrims keep the fact to themselfs. No doubt some hike the trail for this reason, but I would guess it would be more like 1 in 100 or even less.

Myself, I hike for the endorphines :-) I also like the vistas, fields of wild flowers and other natrual wonders. It really is quite amazing how many forms a bunch of sub-atomic particals can combine into to make our universe. Even more amazing that they would combine into something which can appreciate the fact that they do. Divine plan or simple laws of physics and chemistry? Who can say for sure? Does it really matter?

JAK
11-19-2008, 01:36
Hiking for religious/spiritual reasons?

For me, definitely.

I enjoy church when I go, but I know I just don't 'get it' the way some people do, but the older the church or cathedral is the more that seems to help. Doesn't have to be big, but old helps.

I get the woods. The woods are pretty old. Now I know every square mile in New Brunswick has been logged a few times over, but they are still finding some very old trees here and there, usually stunted ones in some rough places nobody has bothered with, and then there is alway the rocks, and the general lay of the land. Along the shoreline the ocean is pretty old also. The shingle beaches are made up of smooth rocks that haven't been so much beaten and battered recently as simply re-released from the conglomerate that makes up the cliffs. The shorelines moved in over the past 8000 years as the ocean levels have risen about 100m. It's fascinating to think about how far out the shoreline might have been 5000 years ago, and how many people might have camped on those beaches, now submerged and lost in time.

Then there's the sky, and the animals that kick about the woods making it their home day and night like its no big thing. To them it's just life, which is everything. In another 10, 20, 50 years I'll be gone, but the woods will still be there, more or less, but I'll have spent some time in the woods just like all those other forgotten men and creatures before me, and that's something. That's eternity.

fancyfeet
11-19-2008, 01:40
I got so much more than I expected from the AT. I didn't start hiking as a way to "find myself" or connect with God, but rather as a way to get away. You see, I had pretty much had I all could take from life at that point.

My first day of backpacking ever was Katahdin. That was the turning point of my life. I really had no idea what I was getting into. I had the dream of thruhiking with me since I was maybe 10 or 11, when my dad first told me about the AT.

I had lost my dad a few years previously. My family was fighting with me because I wasn't "living my life the way I was raised". They were really disappointed in me for not finishing college, for living with a guy, for not having a good enough job, etc. I couldn't visit my grandmother without a comment about my weight. Then I lost my job. So, my boyfriend and I moved down south where, instead of finding a better life, he got a job where drugs were rampant. He got hooked. We started fighting. He started using the bill money for drugs. He left me for another woman (who had the drugs). My neighbors, who were only trying to be helpful, kept telling me what he was up to, but I didn't really want to know (he had that girl over at your house today, while you were at work...). So I started avoiding my neighbors. I got in a fist fight with "that girl". I was severely depressed. I decided I couldn't take any more. I took an overdose of pills and a lot of liquor to try to escape from my pitiful life.

Thankfully, I wised up before it was too late and got myself to the hospital. I was in the hospital for over a week, during which time I got an eviction notice and lost my job (again). I was very emotionally fragile and decided now was a great time to leave it all behind. I cashed in a fund my dad had left me, put my stuff in storage and bought my gear. I bought a bus ticket and took off.

When I got to the trail and started up Katahdin, I had zero experience at backpacking. I had dayhiked, but not one overnight hike. I was seriously overpacked and unprepared. But I was determined. I got a late start going up and it rained on and off. Many hikers turned around due to rain and advised me to do the same. I kept going. The rain cleared, but clouds and mist came and went. I found it exhilarating to look down from that great height and see the clouds blowing by below me. I felt more alive than I'd ever been. By the time I got to the summit, the sun was out but low in the sky. That moment was so beautiful, I could feel the beauty in my heart.

Most of my descent was in the dark with a headlamp. It seemed to go on forever. I slipped and fell, cracking my elbow hard on a rock. I was so exhausted, I wanted to sit there all night and cry. I considered it for a moment and then got up again and kept going. It was at that moment that I started to grow a backbone.

When I got back to the ranger station, the ranger was staying there overnight to make sure I got back. It had to be past midnight. The next day I was so sore and stiff I could barely move, but I went on. I was barely making it shelter to shelter (sometimes I wasn't). I took a couple days off in the 100-mile wilderness. Word got around that I was having a rough time of it and people started giving me gifts of food or encouragement whenever they met me.

I never finished that thruhike. I made it through Maine, took a long break,then did southern Vermont before giving it up for the year. But I went back. And I'm still workin on it. There was never a big spiritual epiphany. More like many small moments that changed me forever. I did feel closer to God. Yes, I believe in God, but not because of anything I can prove. I just know it in my heart.

My spiritual journey is far from over. It's so much more than just what you believe in. I wish I could say I was never depressed again. I have been from time to time, but I learned from that day on Katahdin to just keep going until I'm through it. I learned the value of relying on myself, but accepting help from others when needed. I learned not to give up. I learned to live my own life. I learned to stick up for myself and made peace with my family. I experienced the kindness of strangers. I learned to live. And that life is good.

JAK
11-19-2008, 01:54
I would have liked to have known this fellow...
http://www.shrinesf.org/francis09.htm


Up somewhere in New Brunswick on the old portage route between the St.John and St.Croix and on the the Penobscot River in Maine there is a small Franciscan Chapel. I would like to visit it someday. There used to be a Franciscan mission there, years ago when the French were here in New Brunswick well before the English and Americans. It is interesting to think about such times, 400 years ago. St.Francis himself would have lived 400 years before that. These are interesting things to think about in the woods. Europe is of course full of such places, thousands not hundreds of years old. We must have such places as that here also, but much of that culture has been lost also. But the woods and the land and the sea remains.

Here is some interesting reading about such things from a fellow named Rod Mackay...
http://www.scribd.com/doc/470399/algonqui

tom_alan
11-19-2008, 02:08
Laura AKA FancyFeet, All I got to say is that you certainly know how to take the bull by the horns and run with it ~ Good for you.

Have you ever looked back and wished you had never started hikiing or were you always ready to give it your all?

chronicler
11-19-2008, 02:12
I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread. As a kid hiking around up in Maine, I'd met a lot of NOBOS on the final leg of their journey who told me that they were hiking for one spiritual reason or another. I met a former alcoholic, who emerged from rehab without any idea where to go in life. I met a guy who had just gotten out of the army, who seemed to be seeking some kind of purification, or absolution. I met a couple of missionaries, who tried to make me see the error of my agonistic ways. I met more than a couple people I would've sworn were just plain crazy. Indeed, it was from one of these people, an old man with a long white beard who wore a plaid kilt, that I got that 10% figure. You guys might be right, that number might be an exaggeration. However, what he failed to mention was whether he was referring to 10% of the total number of people who attempt the AT, or the total number who complete it.

What strikes me about the AT is that it takes such enormous will power to see it through to its end. A lot of people on this thread have said that they hike for the endorphins, or the views, or the exercise. Sure, I head to the outdoors for those things too. I rock climb for the endorphins, I go mountaineering for the views, and I run trails for the exercise. But it seems to me that those motivating factors will only take you so far on the AT. After a while the endorphin highs get less and less high, and you grow too skinny from all the exercise, and after twenty, thirty summits, one mountaintop doesn't look all that different from the rest.

As has been pointed out on this site, the AT is long, and it can be excrutiatingly boring, and it can be gruelingly difficult. It takes a certain measure of inner steeliness (some might call it masochism) to walk for six months straight. Bill Bryson couldn't do it. Neither could thousands of others. It seems to me (and correct me if I'm wrong on this, because I'm speaking from a position of relative ignorance, since my first thru-hike won't begin until this March) that in order to complete the AT, you need one of two things motivating you: you either need some fire inside you which drives you towards self-improvement—a desire to spice up the narrative of your life, to break out of the doldrums of the day-to-day, to build your self esteem, to get in shape, to shake off bad habits, to have this amazing accomplishment to tell your grandkids about—or else you have this other, unnameable desire. That desire to which has lured man to the woods for centuries. That which forces you to stop and marvel at the quietly swaying pines. That burning desire that keeps you walking, just to see what's over the next ridge, to peak behind that veil of clouds on the horizon. That nagging itch to find out if there is something more to life than this, this quotidian set of chores and lists and petty arguments. That fear of a life spent merely sleepwalking towards death. Call it curiosity, call it existential angst. I call it a spiritual yearning, and I suspect that many of the people who complete the trail are afflicted with it, whether they know it or not.

It's that second type of person that I wished to draw out on this thread. I thank all of you who shared your stories, your revelations, and your uncertainties. It's a good thing this thread wasn't shut down too soon.

(And to all the squabblers, cut it out! Turn the other cheek already. It's a weak man who isn't secure enough in his convictions to stand by quietly and listen to others spout dumb stuff. Don't be petty. Don't reflexively fire back. Be at peace with your beliefs, and let others be at peace with theirs. It's just a message board, after all!)

fancyfeet
11-19-2008, 02:44
Laura AKA FancyFeet, All I got to say is that you certainly know how to take the bull by the horns and run with it ~ Good for you.

Have you ever looked back and wished you had never started hikiing or were you always ready to give it your all?

Hey, thanks, Tom. No, I never wish I'd never started hiking. Of course, some days are tough and I wonder just why the heck I do it, but most of the time, the rewards are great. Not sure I'm always ready to give it my all. I just do it anyway! And soon enough I'm back in the groove.

The AT and hiking in general have been a huge blessing in my life. The trail is always there if you need it. A couple years ago, I was supposed to get married, but the groom chickened out. So I spent my would be honeymoon week doing trail work instead. Really helps to get your feelings out if you have a sledgehammer and some rocks to smash! :D

Someday I'd like to thru, but for now I just pick up pieces as I can. In a couple weeks I'm going to try my first Florida hike. Wish me luck!

tom_alan
11-19-2008, 09:34
Someday I'd like to thru, but for now I just pick up pieces as I can. In a couple weeks I'm going to try my first Florida hike. Wish me luck!

If you're going to be on the FT you might contact BumpJumper. I know she has helped do maintence on the trail and she may be able to give you some info. If not, she will be able to tell you who to talk with.

The Solemates
11-19-2008, 10:41
Every day on the trail for us is just another display of God's amazing grace, that we are allowed to be vindicated and counted as righteous through Jesus Christ, despite our wanton separation from Him. We witness His grace every time we round a bend and see cloudsmoke rising from the mountaintops, that we should be called children of God. We witness His mercy every time we stop by a picturesque mountain stream and drink from its bounty, that we have been spared from His wrath. We witness His love every time we see a wild deer prancing through a field of flowers, that we are included in His workmanship. We witness his majesty every time we summit that next peak unscathed, that we should be worthy of His noticing. We witness His desire to have us as His, as we gaze upon endless mountain peaks, that we should even be called by name.

BumpJumper
11-19-2008, 10:44
AMEN...that was great.

weary
11-19-2008, 11:36
I share Henry Thoreau's belief that, "in wildness is the preservation of the world." So I work to save wildness, what little remains on this increasingly crowded earth.

Bigelow is one of the great mountain ranges in the east. Every time I walk Bigelow I'm in awe. Bigelow provides a spiritual experience for me and many. Why is Bigelow still wild? Still inspiring? Because a part time reporter on a newspaper I used to work for asked me one day for a good mountain where he could take his new girl friend. I suggested Bigelow.

At the time the key Bigelow acreage was owned by developers who dreamed of creating the "Aspen of the East." on its slopes. The guy returned a few days later proclaiming, "we have to save Bigelow." And he did. He talked to rich lawyers and the inhabitants of the slums of Portland. He organized garden clubs, churches, Elks Clubs, Rotary and Lions, and a crew of petitioners that had to gather 50,000 signatures of registered Maine voters by a date certain.

Many thought the guy was nuts, that it was a foolish effort. A former Sierra Club vice president lead the team of developers. The governor was opposed. Environmental groups and hiking clubs gave only half hearted support.

But on election day in June of 1976, Bigelow was kept forever wild -- or reasonably so -- by a 12,000 vote margin out of the quarter million cast. The poorest neighborhood in Portland provided the widest margin of victory. It was where my reporter friend lived.

My message is simple. Wild places are critically important. They in fact inspire a sense of one with the universe, praise for God, spiritual transformations.

But wild places more and more need the help of people to continue to exist.

Weary www.matlt.org

flemdawg1
11-19-2008, 12:20
I'm a Christian that finds great spiritual connection as I'm hiking. Getting out alone in the wild is a great way to connect w/ the Lord. I've also had an experience w/ God's first-hand presence, like Summit.

Frau
11-19-2008, 14:04
When younger I started hiking for the wonder of it.

I picked hiking back up again 3 years ago for my health.

As I have written elsewhere here, my daughter and I hiked a blue blaze trail on our last day together.

Now I hike for all the above reasons, AND to be out where I best communicate with Cody, still--on the trail.

The trail, for me, is the place where all planes of existence merge, where chi is strong, where I am united with the universe, and especially with Co.

Frau

PS--Thanks for sharing, Fancyfeet.

tom_alan
11-19-2008, 14:34
Here is a poll that goes along with the Hiking for religious or spiritual reasons thread.

Hiking poll religious or spiritual / non-religious or spiritual

tom_alan
11-19-2008, 14:42
A poll has been posted in the "poll section" to go along with this thread.

The Solemates
11-19-2008, 17:03
all the above except dependency

but i checked all the above

Homer&Marje
11-19-2008, 17:44
Hey..what happened to no religious debates? :)


Well you see there was a period in my life. Yesterday. Where I fell away from the thread.

Started reading it again and had a comment, and then I started shootin' with all 6 barrels like I commonly do when I type.

Then I started reading all your posts...like 1 page later. Then I kinda felt bad.

But really folks, I'm not religious in the least. Marje is. If I ever have children, it will be up to them. But all I know is that when I hike I feel better. If you consider that a spiritual experience, great. I consider it feeling better than when I am not hiking.

If I am on top of a mountain, you cannot take the smile off of my face. More importantly, after I have reached the bottom of said mountain, you cannot take the smile off of my face.

"And on that day you will reap it. And we will send you to whatever God you wish. I Domini Padre, I Filli, I Spirictus Sanctus." -Boondock Saints:D

flemdawg1
11-19-2008, 17:47
A poll has been posted in the "poll section" to go along with this thread.

Link?

sheepdog
11-19-2008, 17:49
Wow my post and mags post just disapeared. Did I just get moderated?

Homer&Marje
11-19-2008, 17:51
Wow my post and mags post just disapeared. Did I just get moderated?

Mine too. And yes.

.......Shouldn't this be in SF?

sheepdog
11-19-2008, 17:52
Mine too. And yes.

.......Shouldn't this be in SF?
That just ain't right.
You know if someone thinks they made a mistake they should just admit it and apoligise. That would be the right thing.

Mags
11-19-2008, 18:00
That just ain't right.

I think it is more than fair.

Mine was just a gentle nudge (just for the record) and I don't mind it being deleted.

We had a good discussion going and don't need more firebombs thrown.. :)


I have large collection of purple prose on this topic :D


On the Section House hut trip (http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php/On-The-Beaten-Path.html) , (http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php/On-The-Beaten-Path.html) my friend Wendy and I started a discussion about NPR's THIS I BELIEVE. (http://www.thisibelieve.org/) If you have not listened to this radio program, I suggest you should.

People profess what they believe in. Sometimes heartfelt. Sometimes silly. Sometimes both!
One of my favorites was about BBQ (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4827993).

Sometimes the people are famous; most of the time, the professions of belief are from ordinary people.

On more than one occasion, being in nature has made me inspired to write. Wendy's discussion prompted me to think "What is it that I actually believe in?" And after a day off hiking by myself, I thought of what it is that I believe in.

So, here's my stab at this profession of belief.... This I believe....


What I believe in is passion. A passion for life. A passion for my interests. A passion for all that I do.

I am passionate about food. I grew up in a family where meals were an event. Where a meal was just not sustenance, but an act of expression and something to be savored. Where a meal was a wonderful way to spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon. I believe that cooking is joy...and that sharing that joy with wine, good friends and laughter is one way to make memories that will last for a long time.

I am passionate about the outdoors. My love for the outdoors is just that: A love. Something that is so intrinsic to me that I can't think of life without wilderness. My passion for the outdoors started with a backpacking trip in New Hampshire.I was
out of shape, took the wrong equipment and became lost. But I loved the beauty of the mountains, the ruggedness of
the trail and the contenment I felt in nature. Since then, I've roamed and rambled all over this country. I believe I just don't love the wilderness...I believe I NEED the wilderness in my life.

The outdoors is not my training gym. I could not tell you my resting heart rate. I barely know the difference between a Cliff Bar and a Goo shot.

What I do know is that a full moon on a winter's night is magical. That cold and crisp air, the stars shining above and a trail illuminated by a silvery light is something in life everyone should experience. I know that after skiing for a few miles and standing by the shore of an alpine lake, with a thermos of hot cider (and maybe a splash of spiced rum), makes everything in life that much more wonderful. I believe it is a type of joy that needs to be experienced as much as possible.

I believe that that sometimes a book, a play, a movie or a song moves me in such a way that I want to discuss it. Share what moved me. Express the love and emotion I feel for what I just experienced.

I believe that differences of opinion are OK. THat we all have opinions and causes we feel strong about and want to discuss. I believe that you can disagree without being disagreeable. That (playful) sarcasm and humor aren't bad things in arguments. That these discussions sometimes makes us laugh, sometimes makes us learn something and sometimes may even make us change our minds.

I believe that all great loves have a great friendship at its core. And that all great friendships are also great loves. Without passion in our lives, we can not have great friends or have great loves.

I believe that we all need passion in our life. I believe that passion is what makes life so wonderful, so complex and so full of promise. Without passion, life is just existence. I believe a life lived with passion is truly a life lived.

This I believe.

volleypc
11-19-2008, 18:17
Me and my fiance always enjoyed the outdoors so it was only natural that when she created a "bucket list" for us, she included hiking the Appalachian Trail. To make a long story short, she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away a few years ago. I wouldn't call it spiritual, but I do feel close to her when I am in the woods and I am fortunate to be in an area where hiking is popular and there are alot of trails. I will do the AT in a few years by the way.

weary
11-19-2008, 19:22
Thanks for sharing all..good stuff. That's nice and all...but talk more about a favorite place where you found your spiritualness....perhaps?. :)
I find spiritualness in so many places -- the Mahoosucs that Maine protected with no fanfare 30 years ago, Bigelow, Katahdin, Katahdin's north peaks, Katahdin's NOrthwest Basin, Chimney Pond, Gulf Hagas, Dunn NOtch Falls, a trail to the foot of the Grand Canyon, a 253 acre preserve in my town that I walk weekly or more often, wild, undevbeloped Sprague Pond in Phippsburg, the Great Gulf Wilderness, the Six HUsbands Trail I walked alone at age 13 after my older brother and his friends did the presidentials and left me behind, and of course in thousands of places as I walked north from Springer 15 years ago, and even more places as my wife and I two years ago spent two months exploring the northern tier of national and state parks.

This is a fabulous country with many fabulous, awe inspiring places. But as I enjoy them I keep in mind that almost all were truly protected by a human.

God, or who or what is responsible for this universe and this earth, certainly set the stage. But us latter day entrances on this stage of spiritual inspiration need to remember that God's creations were protected only when people worked to keep it as close as possible to that which God created, fighting bitterly those humans who had other, more profitable ideas.

Weary www.matlt.org

Mags
11-19-2008, 19:33
God, or who or what is responsible for this universe and this earth, certainly set the stage. But us latter day entrances on this stage of spiritual inspiration need to remember that God's creations were protected only when people worked to keep it as close as possible to that which God created, fighting bitterly those humans who had other, more profitable ideas.

Weary www.matlt.org (http://www.matlt.org)


Excellent way to remind us all about responsibility to the wilderness around us.

Contribute funds or sweat equity if you can.

All areas, no matter where you live, have some sort of open space, trail or even a park that could use a hand.

Being raised a Catholic, I tend to get guilty easily..so I always feel the need to help out. :o

mudcap
11-19-2008, 19:51
Atheist here. I will keep to myself,not sure how this thread lasted so long?

Lone Wolf
11-19-2008, 19:53
Wolf American here

mudcap
11-19-2008, 20:04
Wolf American here

Translate...in american or english?

Skidsteer
11-19-2008, 20:33
Atheist here. I will keep to myself,not sure how this thread lasted so long?

Tough question.

It sure wasn't natural selection or intelligent design.

weary
11-19-2008, 20:53
....not sure how this thread lasted so long?
It's lasted because these are important questions that need discussion, but which the "technical" rules of WB don't -- and can't -- address. Wisely the administrators and moderators have allowed it to continue, recognizing, I suspect, the basic importance of the issue.

A lot of people begin the trail imagining that it has spiritual implications. Some are disillusioned and quit, some continue and enjoy an unexpected social experience, and a few of us combine all these reasons, and continue until the end, enjoying all the things the trail provides, social, spiritual, and just being fascinated by the amazing things we see and experience -- and spend the remainder of our lives figuring out what it all means.

Weary

Mags
11-19-2008, 21:06
Atheist here. I will keep to myself,not sure how this thread lasted so long?

Because what could have become a nasty discussion has instead become a great way for many people to share something personal.

Something that goes beyond the simple discussion of gear and into something much more complex than HOW to hike...but rather WHY we hike.

A much more difficult topic that seldom gets discussed.

You have had people who eloquently post about how they find God in nature. Then you have atheists like myself post about how nature is where they seem to find something bigger than they are and perhaps find a bit more meaning in life.

Out of this discussion (after a few tumbles), we found common ground (literally?).

Nature is more than just a workout with a good view for some of the people on this thread.

And that is why the thread lasted so long.

mudcap
11-19-2008, 21:51
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?

Mags
11-19-2008, 21:59
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?

For you it doesn't. For others, it does.

I am an atheist and I tend to my spiritual side there.

If you don't, that's cool.

It is a personal feeling that really can't be proved or disproved.

bloodmountainman
11-19-2008, 22:01
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?
:confused:

mudcap
11-19-2008, 22:03
For you it doesn't. For others, it does.

I am an atheist and I tend to my spiritual side there.

If you don't, that's cool.

It is a personal feeling that really can't be proved or disproved.

I understand Mags,everyone has their own opinions. I am cool with that. You said it well.

Skidsteer
11-19-2008, 22:03
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?

No.

Why do I have to prove it?

Gray Blazer
11-19-2008, 22:07
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?
Only personal testimony.Guess you'll find out when you die.

weary
11-19-2008, 22:11
I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?
Conscious spirtual things have little to do with most hikers enjoyment of the trail. But simple joy has a lot to do with almost everyone's love of the trail. Those of us who think about it, seem to find a link between enjoyment of the trail and the spiritual nature of the trail.

I'm about as close to being an athiest than anyone you have ever met. But I try to keep a tiny window open for new evidence. I've believed several things over the decades, that have proved to be false. So, I continue to listen to whatever evidence anyone can suggest.

In the meantime, I welcome comments, pro and con.

Weary

mudcap
11-19-2008, 22:11
Only personal testimony.Guess you'll find out when you die.

Now that is funny!

I will keep you posted on that one.:mad:

Man,I am amazed at this crap.:rolleyes:

mudcap
11-19-2008, 22:20
I'm about as close to being an athiest than anyone you have ever met. But I try to keep a tiny window open for new evidence.
That proves you are not an Atheist,you are still questioning your own belief. :confused: Simple,you have no clue what you believe in. You surely are not confident in calling yourself an Atheist.:mad:

Skidsteer
11-19-2008, 22:26
That proves you are not an Atheist,you are still questioning your own belief. :confused: Simple,you have no clue what you believe in. You surely are not confident in calling yourself an Atheist.:mad:

Sheesh. And I thought Christians were the only ones that questioned each other's sincerity.

Mudcap, it's fine if you have zero spiritual motivation for hiking. Really.

But that is what this thread is about. Capiche?

weary
11-19-2008, 22:26
Whatever. No one can ever know what happens after death. But as death approaches, and if my mind is still functional, I suspect I'll still be promoting the preservation of wild places -- for as Henry said, "in wildness is the preservation of the world."

FWIW, when his aunt asked Thoreau on his death bed if he had made his peace with God, he replied, "I don't remember that we had ever quarreled," and "one world at a time."

Weary

weary
11-19-2008, 23:07
That proves you are not an Atheist,you are still questioning your own belief. :confused: Simple,you have no clue what you believe in. You surely are not confident in calling yourself an Atheist.:mad:
:)Actually, I have multiple clues. Just not an absolutely final answer. I apparently have a strange mind. Even after I make decisions, it keeps prodding me with possible alternatives. I welcome solutions.

Weary

ed bell
11-20-2008, 00:54
Atheist here. I will keep to myself,not sure how this thread lasted so long?


Because what could have become a nasty discussion has instead become a great way for many people to share something personal.

Something that goes beyond the simple discussion of gear and into something much more complex than HOW to hike...but rather WHY we hike.

A much more difficult topic that seldom gets discussed.

You have had people who eloquently post about how they find God in nature. Then you have atheists like myself post about how nature is where they seem to find something bigger than they are and perhaps find a bit more meaning in life.

Out of this discussion (after a few tumbles), we found common ground (literally?).

Nature is more than just a workout with a good view for some of the people on this thread.

And that is why the thread lasted so long.

As usual, Mags has written a very eloquent post about a subject that doesn't always lend itself to harmony.:sun


I have no idea how anyone can honestly say religion has anything to do with hiking. I am an atheist and enjoy the trail just as much as the next guy! Can anyone prove their point about religion/spirit having anything to do with the trail?


For you it doesn't. For others, it does.

I am an atheist and I tend to my spiritual side there.

If you don't, that's cool.

It is a personal feeling that really can't be proved or disproved.......and with that, can we continue to expound on personal spiritual/religious experiences involved with our time spent hiking?
This thread has great material. It can be very challenging to handle for those trying to keep the discussion in the realm of experiences and away from debate. Give us a hand here. Thanks.

scope
11-20-2008, 01:58
Mudcap is trolling - ignore him. I don't think this thread is about personal viewpoints on religion or spirituality OTHER than what can be personally related to being on the trail. And certainly, nothing needs to be proved to anyone.

tom_alan
11-20-2008, 02:37
A poll has been posted in the "poll section" to go along with this thread.


Link?

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=43336

BumpJumper
11-20-2008, 07:39
Religion and politics are never good topics.

Play nice. This is getting ridiculous.

Alligator
11-20-2008, 10:09
Just a reminder that the OP asked this question


What's your story? Are you hiking to become closer to God, or to nature? (Do you see a distinction there?) Are you hiking to 'find' yourself, or to overcome that kind of thinking? Or do you "hike just to hike," which is in itself a philosophical stance (a la Zen variety).

A few of you are getting a little off track here, even hijacking the thread a bit:-?.

Christus Cowboy
11-20-2008, 10:27
Religion and politics are never good topics.

Play nice. This is getting ridiculous.

Good observation here... religious debates can get quite stident pondering spiritual relevance in the wilderness is completely different....

scope
11-20-2008, 10:29
Religion and politics are never good topics.

Actually, this seems to be a good topic, and I've enjoyed reading what others had to say about their experiences. You know, religion and politics do spark heated discussions, but if we avoid the discussions, we never really learn how to handle them better and we rob ourselves of whatever merit others' opinions might have to offer. While there have been just a few responses which I find to be contemptful (Bushism?), if we handle not responding to them so much, we can follow where this topic takes us.

Plodderman
11-20-2008, 11:00
I like the outdoors and have been a Christian most of my life. Being a minister I enjoy the weeks I can spend on the trail. Very rarely do I ever talk about spiritual things while on the trail. It only comes up when people ask me what I do for a living.

I do not do a lot of talking on the trail more of a private thing while hiking. Never really considered that I hiked for religious reasons more of I just like the outdoors.

But I enjoy the views.

Christus Cowboy
11-20-2008, 12:36
Actually, this seems to be a good topic, and I've enjoyed reading what others had to say about their experiences. You know, religion and politics do spark heated discussions, but if we avoid the discussions, we never really learn how to handle them better and we rob ourselves of whatever merit others' opinions might have to offer. While there have been just a few responses which I find to be contemptful (Bushism?), if we handle not responding to them so much, we can follow where this topic takes us.

Understandable.... I probably should have communicated better on this one, dialogue on such topics can be beneficial and there's no doubt that I learned much from such discussions.... I just want to make sure that I keep within the intent of the original post.... I've really enjoyed this particular discussion thread and would hate to see it prematurely shutdown due to a political digression....

Darwin
11-20-2008, 18:53
I'm a Christian. My last trek, which was on the Long Trail, was a really powerful spiritual experience for me. God taught me a variety of things along the way, both directly and through others I met along the way.

Darwin
[email protected]

Jaybird62
11-20-2008, 20:10
The fact that we can all experience different things on the trail is, in my opinion, the most wonderful thing about us all.... We are all different, and getting to know everyones opinion and viewpoint allows one to see things through someone elses eyes. I have my beliefs, but I will not overstep the boundary that I feel everyone deserves, and that is the free will to believe and live how they choose......

weary
11-20-2008, 22:54
""...let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth" 1 John 3:18"

I can agree with that. Is anyone else up for it?

Weary

fancyfeet
11-21-2008, 00:16
I can agree with that. Is anyone else up for it?

Weary

Absolutely. Simple, yet universal.

Tinker
11-21-2008, 02:28
I can agree with that. Is anyone else up for it?

Weary

A lofty goal, but one worth pursuing.

Teatime
11-21-2008, 03:09
Though I am a Christian, I think hiking the AT can be a spiritual experience even if you aren't religious. Anytime you are tired...I mean really tired, miserable and ready to quit and feel like you just can't go on another step but you dig way deep down and make yourself do it. You push yourself beyond the limits of what you ever thought you could do...I think this is spiritual. These are the things we remember more vividly than anything else. This is the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

bikerscars
12-28-2008, 01:38
atheist here...for me spiritual moments are feelings of being at one with the universe...most likely to happen in a natural setting
i think we can all agree wild places need to be protected from development...future generations will need them as much as we do...
live and let live

weary
12-28-2008, 19:06
i hike for buffets
But remember, Lone Wolf sometimes lies. I think he hasn't figured out his real thoughts about such matters. I mean, truth is truth. Every flop house meal 50 years ago was better than the typical AT buffet. I sense flop houses have gotten even better over the decades, though I haven't sampled them since a bit before I became an "award winning" reporter-- and incidentally, now a poor retired newspaper reporter.

Weary

SunnyWalker
02-11-2009, 23:27
When I hike in the creation I move closer to the Creator. Famous verse in Bible: "draw near to God and he will draw near to you". When I am hiking and camping I am removed from the noise and distractions of my life. If I take advantage of the situation my experience is that I can hear the Lord much easier and draw nearer to Him. the beauty of His creation sure helps me draw near and "draw down"!

q-tip
02-12-2009, 16:29
My thru-hike is about making a transition. I was dead on an operating room table in July. 5 weeks in the hospital and several in a coma. When I came out of the coma I couldn't walk, talk, or hold a spoon. In 2008 I lost my career, home, retirement and am considered disabled. Fast forward, I will be attending graduate school in Sept. 2010 to start a new career. this walk is extremely important spriritually as well as mentally and physically. Right now I am struggling physically even though I have been training for the hike since dec. I trust my body will adapt. Getting my head clear and building up my inner strenght, that may take the whole trip. I don't know if I can finish this, but I am committed to one day at a time....

Blue Caboose
02-12-2009, 16:48
Wow Q-Tip. That is a cool story. Hope to meet you some day.

This is a great thread. I have a feeling that even more are reading this thread than the pages suggest. I know that I have enjoyed it.

SunnyWalker
02-24-2009, 21:45
I also hike for the profound silence one can experience.

clured
02-24-2009, 23:27
Hiking the AT was probably the most powerful confirmation in my mind that there is nothing spiritual in nature. I'm not sure how anyone can spend that much time out there and still think that there's anything other than non-sentient indifference. But, that's why it's so appealing to me. There's no BS, just trees.

SunnyWalker
07-24-2009, 01:15
Clured: is it all meaningless, then?

Ol Mole
07-24-2009, 05:40
Hiking is very spiritual for me. Hiking enables me to listen closer to God by providing a place that is not full of material contraptions, etc. Many of us babble at God during our daily lives, but don't take the time to listen for his reply. I was saved in the late seventies and got serious about a christian walk in the mid eighties. Now as a mature christian, I see the path of the christian walk very similar to the AT. There's always more trail, there is always more to do in my daily walk with him. When I was a young hiker, many more experienced hikers helped me. As a seasoned christian, now I can help others with their walk.

I also view my ability to hike and the time I spend on the trail as a reward from God. He pours out his blessings and mercy and my cup overfloweth. To all who wonder if He is out there, put Him to the test. Go out and listen for the still small voice in the wilderness. He will answer.

Jayboflavin04
07-24-2009, 10:08
I find that when I am hiking/biking is when I find myself most in the present/now. Not worrying about what needs to be done, or what I need to be doing. So yes I do it for spiritual reasons. I am agnostic so being immersed in the nature is great therapy for me. I feel truly alive when I am out there. No rules, no one telling me what to do! Call it what you like....your zen, the now, walking with god, meditation, prayer.

Just for the record....I dont care what "religion" anyone out there is. I try to follow one cardinal rule in life...."Do unto others.....ect."