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  1. #1
    Registered User Kookork's Avatar
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    Default What makes a moment of hiking special enough to :

    Remember.

    I have some memories of almost every trail I have walked.

    Most of the memories are related to extremes or what I call EST reasons. I remember things that were biggest, hottest ,coldest or things alike. I remember the hottest days on trail , coldest nights. Also I remember the first bear encounter vividly or when I saw my first rattle snake or things alike.

    But there are moments that I vividly remember ( even more vividly than extreme moments) and there is no reason for those moments to stands out from others.

    For example I remember a road crossing when nothing was special about that road crossing . Or I remember one campsite out of hundreds when I have forgotten 99 percent of the others but I remember almost everything about that special campsite ( when nothing about that particular campsite was really special).

    There are moments that I remember vividly for some obvious reasons and there are moments that I remember vividly for no obvious reasons.

    Have you experienced what I am trying to talk about?

    Those dull moments that are ingrained in your memory forever for(supposedly) no apparent reason?
    And why?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kookork View Post
    Remember.

    I have some memories of almost every trail I have walked.

    Most of the memories are related to extremes or what I call EST reasons. I remember things that were biggest, hottest ,coldest or things alike. I remember the hottest days on trail , coldest nights. Also I remember the first bear encounter vividly or when I saw my first rattle snake or things alike.

    But there are moments that I vividly remember ( even more vividly than extreme moments) and there is no reason for those moments to stands out from others.

    For example I remember a road crossing when nothing was special about that road crossing . Or I remember one campsite out of hundreds when I have forgotten 99 percent of the others but I remember almost everything about that special campsite ( when nothing about that particular campsite was really special).

    There are moments that I remember vividly for some obvious reasons and there are moments that I remember vividly for no obvious reasons.

    Have you experienced what I am trying to talk about?

    Those dull moments that are ingrained in your memory forever for(supposedly) no apparent reason?
    And why?
    For me, I live and hike in the moment. I don't invalidate ANY experience as unworthy. I don't get stuck in memories only labeled with superlatives. It's all good. I seek to walk with a grateful heart in humility with a infinite awareness so all you talk about explains the WHY? in your question that I too have experienced as you tell it.

  3. #3
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    I have those memories that you speak of. What makes one moment memorable when it doesn't seem unique? Perhaps your mind is clear of thoughts and distractions at the time. Or you are aware of how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Or even that you may never been in that place again in the same season, time of day or ever.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kookork View Post
    Remember.

    I have some memories of almost every trail I have walked.

    Most of the memories are related to extremes or what I call EST reasons. I remember things that were biggest, hottest ,coldest or things alike. I remember the hottest days on trail , coldest nights. Also I remember the first bear encounter vividly or when I saw my first rattle snake or things alike.

    But there are moments that I vividly remember ( even more vividly than extreme moments) and there is no reason for those moments to stands out from others.

    For example I remember a road crossing when nothing was special about that road crossing . Or I remember one campsite out of hundreds when I have forgotten 99 percent of the others but I remember almost everything about that special campsite ( when nothing about that particular campsite was really special).

    There are moments that I remember vividly for some obvious reasons and there are moments that I remember vividly for no obvious reasons.

    Have you experienced what I am trying to talk about?

    Those dull moments that are ingrained in your memory forever for(supposedly) no apparent reason?
    And why?
    I have these moments as well, memories that bubble up for no obvious reason. Over years of these moments I have found they are usually triggered by something I see, smell, taste, or feel that are reminiscent of other places, circumstances, or time period. Its a pretty neat thing overall. If I think about a given trail I have been on, I can retrace most of the walk in my minds eye if I can "see" myself at the trailhead, but I cannot remember my wife's birthday to save my life.

  5. #5
    Garlic
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    I often hike with a partner who is amazed at my memory of minutiae on a hike. Near the end of our AT hike, I could reminisce about specific campsites on specific nights months ago, like the nights we heard the screech owls or the whippoorwills, or which day we encountered X hiker. In my case, I believe is was partly from writing things down in a journal. And partly because such things made more of an impression on me (which is probably why I'd write them down in a journal, of course).

    One of the things AT Traveler says rings true, about sense of smell. If I get a whiff of coal burning (last time was in the town of Durango, CO when they were firing up the old train), I get transported back to an incredible winter month I spend in Beijing and Inner Mongolia decades ago. Or the smell of unburnt diesel recalls my years as a wildland firefighter, carrying a drip torch.

  6. #6
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    I often hike with a partner who is amazed at my memory of minutiae on a hike. Near the end of our AT hike, I could reminisce about specific campsites on specific nights months ago, like the nights we heard the screech owls or the whippoorwills, or which day we encountered X hiker. In my case, I believe is was partly from writing things down in a journal. And partly because such things made more of an impression on me (which is probably why I'd write them down in a journal, of course).
    I think part of it is how your brain takes in and processes information. At work a few years ago we went through a long process looking at this subject, specifically how the brain handles visual, audio, and physical stimuli. It was fascinating (here is a site with an overview, though not affiliated with the folks who worked with us). When I am physically active, I take in huge amounts of information -- when my wife is hiking with me, her brain goes into deep thinking mode and she doesn't process any outside stimuli. So we'll get to the end of the day and I'll be going on and on about some specific view from a ridge, or the climb up some specific mountain, and she won't remember any of the details. Even years later I can "see" very specific details about the trail in my head, and she doesn't recall any of it. Yeah -- specific campsites, the exact place where we saw the bear, or the people we met, all of that. It's really interesting.

    On the other hand, if I'm not active and there is some sort of visual stimulus, it'll shut me down completely -- I have to be careful in bars to sit so there isn't a TV screen in my line of sight.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  7. #7
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    From the science side- I thought this was an excellent series, though looks like the episodes are not all available at the moment- http://video.pbs.org/program/brain-david-eagleman/


    To BigCranky's point- There are many types of learners, so it stands to reason there are just as many ways to form memory.
    Backpacking is an activity that involves all the senses, as well as physical and mental stimuli simultaneously.
    To whatever extent you'd like to count it, you are also partaking of these activities surrounded by lifeforms and energies of all types.

    As Kookork notes- Many hikers report such deep and varied memory experiences, often with no clear reason on why this should happen.
    So from a science side- the opportunity to form deep and lasting memories is very high in general regardless of your learning type.

    Dogwood might also add that the simple power of living presently and free of normal daily distractions found in town life is a major factor.
    He may also point out that living in such states of awareness may be a reason we form seemingly meaningless memories, as they may have more to do with the whole than the individual. That perhaps something on the edge of your awareness was memorable.
    Or even more simply- perhaps you are so vividly recalling those moments because you were in a full and present state of awareness, and though nothing of great import seemed to occur, the simple experience was very noteworthy in and of itself.

    Backpacking presents a unique balance of many things. From a science or even spiritual perspective. All five senses are active. More even if you care to believe in such things.
    Our minds are cognitively busy with subconscious things like locomotion, breathing, healing, fueling, repairing and even the added task of balancing the load of our pack.
    Our minds are actively busy with routefinding, pacing, planning, watching, learning, thinking and choosing.
    Our minds are passively busy with daydreaming, connecting, or even wandering.
    Our minds are blank... occasionally too busy with simply being to note all the things above that eventually become habitual or instinctual as the miles pile up.
    The PBS series notes that much like an ant in a colony our individual neurons are nothing special, able only to communicate with their neighbor on the most fundamental and crudest of levels. The principal of emergence is used in many disciplines, the simple saying, "greater than the sum of it's parts" comes to mind.

    Point being-
    I wonder sometimes; As I watch something like that PBS special, see Paul Stamets explain the interconnection of mycelium in the forest floor, or read a study on grandparent trees feeding and raising their children via root systems, or even pretend to understand the basics of string theory perhaps explaining the mechanism of interconnection on a different scale...

    And as I stroll through the woods; if the 100 billion or so relatively useless individual neurons in my 3 pound brain can get together to make me, or that colony of ants I passed can collectively create an entity greater than themselves- What are the trillions upon trillions of living things around me getting together to do as I walk by?

    More often each year I wonder if science is beginning to put together enough individual theories and experiments to scientifically prove something the red men who used to live here took as a simple fact- Mitakuye Oyasin.

    Perhaps that's what we are starting to remember.

    Great OP and topic- sorry for the ramble it inspired.

  8. #8
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I'm in wholehearted agreement with the previous posters, although I know that I do not tend to "live in the moment" as much as Dogwood suggests. Even so, I recall vast amounts of minutiae, readily recall the EST moments as some of the best times of my hiking (although rarely the easiest), have memories triggered by sensory similarities (smell, sound, taste, and even touch), and can typically recall something from 90% of my backpacking days. For only the second year since '99 I wasn't able to get out for an annual week-long trip, and with winter upon us I'm aching to get back out there. Fortunately, my planning efforts help sustain me until I actually get out there (which will be the JMT in early September 2016). It is these memories that keep us coming back.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  9. #9
    Registered User ChuckT's Avatar
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    Over thinking
    Miles to go before I sleep. R. Frost

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    All the good and memorable stuff happens between the views. Like those orange newts. And rattle snakes. And that perfect rock to sit on in a tucked away stealth site. It took me a while to realize that, and when i finally did- I never felt bored in the "green tunnel" again.

  11. #11

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    I have the worst memory in the world, apparently back in the late 70's/early 80's I smoked far too much weed as a teenager and stunted the memory portions of my brain. I very much live in the moment, knowing that the beautiful scene of the sun peeking under the trees that I saw yesterday on the trail will be forgotten in a few days.

  12. #12
    Registered User PAFranklin's Avatar
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    There are usually a lot more of those memories stored in your brain that don't come to the surface until somethings triggers them. Seeing something similar or getting some audio,visual, or other sensory input the then gets associated with the "lost memory".

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    There has been lots of work done on how memories are passed from short term memory to long term memory. If a memory doesn't make this transition then it is lost forever. You will often hear people say that they have no memory of a terrible accident they were in and the period their memory blacks out starts a few minutes before the accident. You will sometime hear people claim that these pwople are repressing memories due to the trauma of the accident, but this is usually not true. Due to the accident, the victim was not able to transition a few minutes of experience to long term memory, including events prior to the accident. I wonder if a lack of distraction while hiking may make some memories pass especially vividly into long term memory, even if the aren't particularly "memorable".

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    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    There has been lots of work done on how memories are passed from short term memory to long term memory. If a memory doesn't make this transition then it is lost forever. You will often hear people say that they have no memory of a terrible accident they were in and the period their memory blacks out starts a few minutes before the accident. You will sometime hear people claim that these pwople are repressing memories due to the trauma of the accident, but this is usually not true. Due to the accident, the victim was not able to transition a few minutes of experience to long term memory, including events prior to the accident. I wonder if a lack of distraction while hiking may make some memories pass especially vividly into long term memory, even if the aren't particularly "memorable".
    You write the grant... I'll gladly help you with extensive field testing and research.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    ... I wonder if a lack of distraction while hiking may make some memories pass especially vividly into long term memory, even if the aren't particularly "memorable".
    I hypothesize you are right.

    I think JB nailed it too in this comment: "simple power of living presently and free of normal daily distractions found in town life is a major factor. (It's more comparable to an overload of stimulus so the brain HAS TO delete out some stimuli).

    He may also point out that living in such states of awareness may be a reason we form seemingly meaningless memories, as they may have more to do with the whole than the individual. That perhaps something on the edge of your awareness was memorable.
    Or even more simply- perhaps you are so vividly recalling those moments because you were in a full and present state of awareness, and though nothing of great import seemed to occur, the simple experience was very noteworthy in and of itself."

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    For each of us, it is some sort of person connection. Obviously, the connection is different for all!

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    Registered User Different Socks's Avatar
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    I try to make an effort to notice something different for each and every day, that way almost every day has something special about it to help me remember.

  18. #18

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    I think if you get dropped on your head when your little...a lot, you may store certain memory's in places others do not normally store them, the brain can compensate for the lack of storage making use of another area again not normally used specifically for that task. The type of memory experienced can also be fostered, recalled and improved or modified and there by changing reality, i.e. Hearing Colors, seeing sounds, smelling words...are you with me so far. I don't know what science calls this but I like to call it riding the wave...go with it. We all process the gift of deep thought, but recognizing it as such before the fleeting "short term" gives way to another thought is but nanopar/sec of time, so many people miss it for failure to recog the sitcheation...can ya dig it?

    ...it's just thinkin'
    I think, there for I am.

  19. #19
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    I think if you get dropped on your head when your little...a lot, you may store certain memory's in places others do not normally store them, the brain can compensate for the lack of storage making use of another area again not normally used specifically for that task. The type of memory experienced can also be fostered, recalled and improved or modified and there by changing reality, i.e. Hearing Colors, seeing sounds, smelling words...are you with me so far. I don't know what science calls this but I like to call it riding the wave...go with it.
    What science calls it- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity


    We all process the gift of deep thought, but recognizing it as such before the fleeting "short term" gives way to another thought is but nanopar/sec of time, so many people miss it for failure to recog the sitcheation...can ya dig it?

    ...it's just thinkin'
    I think, there for I am.
    What Philosophy calls it- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_in_a_vat
    I can dig it.

  20. #20
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I hypothesize you are right.

    I think JB nailed it too in this comment: "simple power of living presently and free of normal daily distractions found in town life is a major factor. (It's more comparable to an overload of stimulus so the brain HAS TO delete out some stimuli).

    He may also point out that living in such states of awareness may be a reason we form seemingly meaningless memories, as they may have more to do with the whole than the individual. That perhaps something on the edge of your awareness was memorable.
    Or even more simply- perhaps you are so vividly recalling those moments because you were in a full and present state of awareness, and though nothing of great import seemed to occur, the simple experience was very noteworthy in and of itself."
    Cue Neo from the Matrix saying "Whoa..."

    You just quoted me, pretending to quote you, while responding to a chemist discussing neuroscience in the broader topic of pleasant memories had while walking.

    If I was into such things; I'd blame the magical "research" that Paul Stamets did before he became an official mycologist.

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