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The Philosophy of Hiking

    What makes a good hiker? The best hikers, and the ones who love the sport the most, have learned to feel very comfortable on the trail with them and with the natural environment. This can only happen after you spend a lot of time out there, once the outdoors begins to feel like home. And it doesn't stem from having the right gear, necessarily. It's having the right head-a good attitude, and a positive frame of mind.

     Don't fight the trail. You have to flow with it. You can't make a mountain any less steep or an afternoon any cooler or the day any longer, so don't waste your energy complaining. Time and distance and terrain and the trail itself cannot be changed. You have to change yourself. You have to adapt your mind, heart, and soul to the trail. For every five days on the trail, you can expect one day to be uncomfortably wet, one day to be uncomfortably dry, one day to be uncomfortably hot, one day to uncomfortably cold, and one day to be comfortable. 

    Don't expect nature to respect you manmade comfort level and your desire to control your environment. In our desire to avoid discomfort we may become more uncomfortable. Leave your cultural level of comfort at home. Forget about your material wants. Just concentrate on your physical and spiritual needs. Yes, you can wear one T-shirt the entire journey; you don't have to take showers; you can survive on one hot meal a day; you don't need a roof and walls around you at night.

    Leave your emotional fan at home as well.  Feel free to laugh and to cry, to feel lonely and to feel afraid, to feel socially irresponsible and to feel foolish, and to feel free. Rediscover you childhood. Play the game of the trail. Roll with the punches and learn to laugh in the face of adversity.

     Be optimistic. Things could always be worse. Don't become mired in the swamp of sorrow. Some thoughts to have in your head: Upon reaching the top of the mountain - "Gee, I' here already. Upon starting your hike - "It's going to hurt and be hard, but I'm still going to enjoy it." After your first week in the trail-"Gosh, this isn't as hard as I though it would be." During your sixth straight of rain-"At least the springs aren't dry." During your third week of drought-"At least I don't have to put on wet socks in the morning." During the second straight week of mosquitoes/black flies-"At least they're not wasps." 

    This all sounds like good advice for our daily lives, doesn't it? That's one of the reasons hiking means so much to us. Trail life teaches us how to live all the other parts of our lives, too. The most important lessons we have learned in life that trail have taught us.  

-Excerpt from "A Hiker's Companion, 12,000 Miles of Trail-Tested Wisdom"

The Leave-No-Trace Principles of Outdoor Ethics

I Tried to Climb A Mountain Today
Author: Unknown 
 I tried to climb the mountain today. As I inched my way up the path, I felt
 overwhelmed, so I had to turn back. 
 I tried to climb the mountain today. On my journey, darkness started to
 fall, and I was full of fear, so I had to return to a safe place. 
 I was ready to climb the mountain today. But it was so hot outside, I
 thought I better stay in my nice air-conditioned house and rest up for
 tomorrow's attempt. 
 I was about to climb the mountain today. But I had so many other things to
 do,so instead of climbing the mountain I took care of much more important
 tasks. I washed my car, mowed the grass and watched the big game. Today the
 mountain will just have to wait.
 I was going to climb the mountain today. But as I stared at the mountain in
 it's majestic beauty, I knew I stood no chance of making it to the top, so I
 figured why even bother trying. 
 I have forgotten about climbing the mountain today; until a friend came by
 and asked me what I was up to lately. I told him I was thinking about
 climbing that mountain some day. 
 I went on and on about how I was going to accomplish this task. Finally, he
 said,"I just got back from climbing the mountain. 
 For the longest time I told myself I was trying to climb the mountain but
 never made any progress. I almost let the dream of making it to the top die.
 I came up with every excuse of why I could not make it up the mountain, but
 never once did  I give myself a reason why I could.
One day as I stared at the mountain and  pondered, I realized that if
I didn't make an attempt at this dream all my  dreams will eventually die." 
 "The next morning, I started my climb." He continued, "It was not easy, and
 at times I wanted to quit. But no matter what I faced, I placed one foot in
 front of the other, keeping a steady pace. When the wind tried to blow me
 over the edge, I kept walking. When the voices inside my head screamed
 "stop!" I focused on mygoal never letting it out of sight, and I kept moving
 forward. At times, I was ready  to quit, but I knew I had come too far.
Time and time again, I reassured  myself that I was going to finish this journey.
I struggled to make it to  the top, but I climbed the mountain!" 
 "I have to be going," my friend said. "Tomorrow is a new day to accomplish
 more dreams. By the way, what are you going to do tomorrow?" 
 I looked at him, with intensity and confidence in my eyes, and said, "I have
 a mountain to climb."