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  1. #41
    Lnj's Avatar
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    The woods are poetry in motion. They and all that inhabit them are beautiful. Even the spiders I so seriously hate, are gorgeous to see and watch in their home, doing what they were created to do (which is not to live in my house by the way). It's another world from the one I live in daily. A world full of animals and creatures of all kinds living only by instinct, without guile or hate or agenda/motive. Just living as they were created to live. How wonderfully simple and easy and I am envious and being outside (at their house) for a while gives me a tiny little taste of what that might be like. I feel a bit like the animal/mammal I am. Probably the only time I feel that way. It's a up close and personal viewing of the circle of life, including the plants and trees and dirt and insects. It's breathtakingly beautiful. It re-prioritizes the mind to the most basic needs and concerns and allows me to gain perspective and reasoning. At the end of the day, what really matters in this life? Relationships and the state/condition of your heart and soul, and food, water and shelter. You can get your fill of all of these in the woods.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

  2. #42

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    Heading to the mountains always felt like goin' home.

  3. #43
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    I'm not the most introspective but I actually wrote these while in my bag and tent last Saturday night:

    1. It's not work, it's not what I do everyday.
    2. The woods are quiet.
    3. I want to gain/maintain some physical condition.
    4. I want to return to some of the physical challenges that I met when I was younger.
    5. I like the challenges and the decision making.
    6. I like the prehike planning.
    7. Other backpackers are good people to be with.

    Family/friends would be surprised to learn that I've even thought along these lines.
    76 HawkMtn w/Rangers
    13 HF>CramptonsG
    14 LHHT
    15 Girard/Quebec/LostTurkey/Saylor/Tuscarora/BlackForest
    16 Kennerdell/Cranberry-Otter/DollyS/WRim-NCT
    17 BearR
    18-19 AT NOBO 1540.5

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerZ View Post
    I'm not the most introspective but I actually wrote these while in my bag and tent last Saturday night:

    1. It's not work, it's not what I do everyday.
    2. The woods are quiet.
    3. I want to gain/maintain some physical condition.
    4. I want to return to some of the physical challenges that I met when I was younger.
    5. I like the challenges and the decision making.
    6. I like the prehike planning.
    7. Other backpackers are good people to be with.

    Family/friends would be surprised to learn that I've even thought along these lines.
    RangerZ, you've caught a lot of the mundanity, the same-old trudge, the daily plainness that I found on my hike last year. I loved those aspects!

    I got all the warm fuzzies from directly being in the natural world as well — and that was powerful.

    But what you've written also captures a lot of what I yearn for. Thanks!

  5. #45
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    We (my gf and I) mentioned to a chubby waitress while she was taking our breakfast order, that we we going hiking. Her face lit up and she asked us "is hiking fun?"
    We looked at each other and said "no, not really, but its something we enjoy doing. Its hard work at times"

    As a friend of hers asked her once "what godforsacken mountain are you climbing this weekend?"

    We've asked ourselves several times why we enjoy it. It can be a miserably exhausting experience, it can be terrifying, it can be deathly cold, it can be so hot that your toungue swells from dehydration. One has to battle biting bugs, dirty water, hygiene and sanitation issues, it can be very repetitious to the point of boredom and in those moments one withdraws within oneself and reach a zen-like quality. Your mind floats, free of stress, or cares of the outside world. The miles fly by. You stop on top of some godforsacken mountain, and drink some ice-cold mountain water you just filtered a mile back on the trail, munch on some gorp, and watch nature's geologic handiwork flow out before you and think how few people in the country even have the motivation to shut off ESPN and get off the couch to get to this exact spot and see this view. Mind completely empty, just enjoying the moment. At that moment, one realizes how truly unique and special one is.

    And also, hiker chicks have the greatest glutes.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    We (my gf and I) mentioned to a chubby waitress while she was taking our breakfast order, that we we going hiking. Her face lit up and she asked us "is hiking fun?"
    We looked at each other and said "no, not really, but its something we enjoy doing. Its hard work at times"

    As a friend of hers asked her once "what godforsacken mountain are you climbing this weekend?"

    We've asked ourselves several times why we enjoy it. It can be a miserably exhausting experience, it can be terrifying, it can be deathly cold, it can be so hot that your toungue swells from dehydration. One has to battle biting bugs, dirty water, hygiene and sanitation issues, it can be very repetitious to the point of boredom and in those moments one withdraws within oneself and reach a zen-like quality. Your mind floats, free of stress, or cares of the outside world. The miles fly by. You stop on top of some godforsacken mountain, and drink some ice-cold mountain water you just filtered a mile back on the trail, munch on some gorp, and watch nature's geologic handiwork flow out before you and think how few people in the country even have the motivation to shut off ESPN and get off the couch to get to this exact spot and see this view. Mind completely empty, just enjoying the moment. At that moment, one realizes how truly unique and special one is.

    And also, hiker chicks have the greatest glutes.
    Ha....counting down till the she nazi's eat this up....


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #47
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    The perfect campfire topic.

    I tend to quote Benton MacKaye a lot... He uses the word "recreation" a lot in his essays. Parse that word. Say it. He also talks about the wilderness as "oxygen for the soul."

    Love hanging out with kindred souls at a campsite or shelter. Love being high above the world, looking out over it... absolved and relieved, at least for a while, of its petty concerns. Celebrating my health, vigor, and freedom. I love the deep silence, and the (mostly) soothing sights, sounds and scents of the woods.

    To the extent that I'm a spiritual person at all, the woods are my cathedral.

  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post

    We've asked ourselves several times why we enjoy it. It can be a miserably exhausting experience, it can be terrifying, it can be deathly cold, it can be so hot that your toungue swells from dehydration. One has to battle biting bugs, dirty water, hygiene and sanitation issues, it can be very repetitious to the point of boredom and in those moments one withdraws within oneself and reach a zen-like quality. .
    My personal definition of Backpacking? Managing Discomfort.

    Some days are tough, some days are tougher, other days are not. And all are done in the up-ended snow globe of Miss Nature's favorite home.

    Some backpacking days are a nonstop scramble from one campsite to the next in terrible conditions. These tough days produce a mindset which can make for a long tough day of backpacking and eventually results in what I call the Lizard Gaze—Your eyes get focused like a lizard and you enter a very strange state—Moving at all costs, robot mode, sticks and jabs unnoticed—you feel no pain—and you react to everything in your surroundings without thought. It’s a good place to be but it’s a tough place to get TO. Green berets call it the Drone Zone. Common backpackers like me touch the hem of the skirted Lizard on occasion.

    Ultimately though we get to sleep up against the soft breasts of beautiful Miss Nature and for this we keep going out.

  9. #49
    Lnj's Avatar
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    I think part of the addiction too is that it is HARD. One of my near daily mantras to my kids and husband and whomever else is around when appropriate, is: "Nothing worth having comes easy". It's the fact that is is so hard that makes it worth doing at all and there is such an awesome pay off and you don't have to wait until the end for it. The pay off is in the views and sounds and smells and, and, and.... and it comes along with every step you take. Right along side the pain of your knees and back. Its a perfect balance between euphoria and misery in a simultaneous dance. And I can't think where else you could ever achieve such a feeling in this life. Its the perfect marriage between instant gratification and slow and steady wins the race.

    The woods are simply peace and agony; simple yet technically difficult; pain and promise; sweat and sweet; tears and fears. It's everything all wrapped up in a little walk. OR.....

    "It's Just Walking" by:LW
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

  10. #50
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    Time slows down, focus and absorption of the present moment increases.

    Ask me about my 8 hour shift at work two days ago and I'm lucky if I can even recall 1 thing that I did. Ask me about my day #2 of doing Jasper's Skyline Trail years ago and I could likely write you a very detailed small novel, describing everything from the positioning of the tent to what clothes I was wearing.
    I try to avoid having a pre-set plan and a "making miles" mindset, that is just creating a reason to stress and worry when in reality there is none.

    Years of meditation has taught me to separate my brain into 2 separate entities, thinking, and awareness.

    My thinking brain dominates probably 99% of the time. It's essential for life. It is also far over-stimulated by the way we live today. It is the sole cause for stress and anxiety, depression and anger. It can certainly produce pleasure, but I have yet to make myself "happy" with thought. My definition of happy is more of a carefree contentment though.

    Awareness is the non-thought dominated state of being. I also think of it as being in "the zone". It's the feeling you get when you're fully focused and operating at peak performance. It's a snowboarder nailing a 900 in a superpipe. It's a football player reading the QB's eyes and making an interception. It's mind blowing sex. It's swerving out of the way of a stopping car at the last second.

    Awareness is when conscious thought, which is the bringer of negativity, is not the dominating force in your brain. Negativity on the inside all too often is a precursor for negativity to present on the outside. Awareness is the full acceptance of and absorption in the present moment.

    For whatever reason, hiking muffles my thinking brain. It doesn't put me into a meditative state, devoid of thought. It does, however, do a damn good job at cleansing the negative ones. My thinking becomes clearer, and I'm able to feel things that are all too lacking from my daily life. Awe. Appreciation. Wonder. A feeling that things will be all right.

    After writing that, it seems like I use it as a therapy or a spiritual thing, but that is not the full extent of it. I also love hiking to a spot by a river and getting a buzz going with some friends. I love the small talk with strangers on the trail almost as much as the solitude. Although I loathe consumerism, I love the gear. Just looking at a well made pack or even a hiking map is enough to stimulate my mind. I love introducing people to the "sport", and taking someone to one of my favorite spots. I love not having a clue what time it is. I love it getting dark at 5pm in the winter, and laying in my sleeping bag reading a mindless entertaining novel for hours. I love the look of a well set up stealth spot. I love doing something I'm going to remember in 10 years.

    I can't fully describe everything that draws me to it. It just feels natural. What else could I be doing that is any better?

  11. #51

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    If I can get out to where man-made things are not present except only the clothing and gear that actually works as it should and there is no evidence other people have been there, everything that is in me becomes enlivened, I think, because I am in the natural world where I belong and I was made for this experience.

    There are those that are determined to destroy every vestige of every place for getting that experience: determined to destroy the chance for having experience of the natural environment. Nearly successful, practically everywhere I go there are the "improvements". It isn't easy to find a natural place.

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