“Been on any cool hikes lately”
‘Not really.’ ——-Me.
“That’s a shame… that’s WHO YOU ARE…” —— Unnamed coworker
“Hey, remember that 18-mile hike you did when you said your back hurt… I looked at your track and you rode with someone the last half mile on the jeep road. You’re a fraud, and I’m going to tell everyone…You never deserved to be in Backpacker” —–Prominent guy in the Phoenix hiking community
I hiked today for the first time in a LONG time. It felt good, familiar yet also foreign. I realized oddly, that I missed the smells and the sounds alot more than I missed the sights. My lungs were fine, one of my ankles hurt a little bit and my back hurt from the weight of the 3 gallons of water that I always take in my Camelbak, mostly out of habit. But otherwise I was fine.
But what have I been doing for a year…
I wish I could say that I’ve been writing the next great American novel, have been in some foreign country building a water source for underprivileged children, or having founded a successful non-profit.
But I can’t. The truth is, I’ve been doing whatever I wanted to do, which mainly has consisted of spending time at home with my family, watching sports and doing my other nerdly hobbies.
For months, I beat myself up about it… Still do/did. But I also realized that unlike the trails and the mountains, my family won’t always be here. My son’s already left for college and my daughter’s about to be in the eleventh grade. My dogs that I play with almost constantly will one day die.
But the trails will always be there. The fact is… they don’t miss you. They also don’t really call you. We are called to them from within and for the last year, I just didn’t want to do it. Hiking became work. Work became obsession. Accomplishments meant little because no matter what I accomplished, it wasn’t as good as someone else. My hills and mountains weren’t the Rockies, or the Cascades, or Nepal, or insert whatever other cool place that you can imagine or have lusted over. Instead of going to Iceland to hike glaciers, I got up every morning at 5:25 and went to work.
I also became jealous and envious over time. But not of the pretty pictures, not of the hikes, and not even of the places that my friends were going, but of their desire. Because I didn’t have any. None.
Truthfully, what I did have was fear. Not of snakes or animals, but fear that I’d never have any desire to hike or go outside again.
But one thing that I have learned in a year is that what we do is not who we are, and its not what we are meant for. Although I don’t really understand why, people tell me that I inspire them. But as some have told me its not what I do (or in this case did) its how I care about them, tell them that I am proud of them, tell them that in many cases that I love them for who they are, and not for what they do.
Today, I still hiked over 3 miles per hour, which I suppose is probably because of my long legs. I stopped and watched a javelina make its way down into a wash. I took a ton of pictures for a three mile hike. Basically, I did it my way. I hiked for myself, and for nobody else.