A month on the trail. How to describe the experience?
Wake up with the dawn each morning. Eat a few fig newtons. Put all my things in their place in my pack. Walk somewhere new.
There’s a simple freedom to this transient lifestyle. My needs are simple and immediate. I drink when I am thirsty. Stop for a snack when I am tired. Find or make shade when it is too hot.
My biggest concern extends only to the next water source.
As I walk, my mind wanders from admiring cactus, considering the lives of ants, into other daydreams, and back to the rugged world I am in.
The next campsite is chosen for its relation to a water source. If we are lucky, water is near our door, sometimes it is still eight miles away. Our standards for a campsite have lowered considerably from a flat spot, to any piece of ground that is some semblance of flatish.
The setting sun chimes hiker midnight, and into my bag I crawl.
Hiking the trail is no easy task for the body. Each day something is complaining. What pain that can be fixed or alleviated is. What can’t, I walk with. Getting ‘trail legs’ is a slow process. Each bodily challenge overcome is part of the journey.
We yell ‘I am the champion!’ Each time we finish a climb up a ridge, pass, or mountain. And spend a moment enjoying the view we have attained before beginning the descent.
Small accomplishments feel like victories. Life is immediate. Needs are small but necessary. Happiness is found at the smallest things. A built in community of other hikers surrounds you. New friends will be met under the one shade spot in a vast dry stretch, and more will join. Swapping stories from different sections of the trail. The usual questions: where did you start today, where are you camping tonight, where do you come from, and finally you introduce yourselves by trail name.
The trail stretches on. We hike over mountains, around them, up creek drainages, across deserts, up another ridge. Always something new to look at.
All I need is a trail stretching before me, and a pack on my back.