I read an ode to thru hiking on Backpacker.com a few weeks back. The writer, an Appalachian Trail veteran, said that thru hiking allowed him to fill exactly the space that one human being took up.
“Right sized” is another way I’ve heard that thought phrased.
Today I spent wandering through dreamy, soft meadows all spongy with wet joy. Life was flowing through everything, self possessed and enamored with the world. The sun was bright, but not too hot. The lakes were sandy. The water was cool. Everything felt easy, as if my entire life had been leading up to this day, to one very perfect moment.
Today I was not in a hurry. I took a long break by a nonsensically babbling brook after only two hours of hiking. I took another in another hour to swim. I took a lunch with a new friend, walking and chatting with a woman who feels as strongly about getting other women outdoors as I do. I ended my day early, because I didn’t want to camp on a ridge line and the spot I found was deliriously flat.
When I started hiking alone, I used a stopwatch. I put eight hours on a timer and clocked out every time I took a break. I checked my mileage like a hawk, wanting to break myself of laziness, to walk until I couldn’t walk any longer.
I let go of the timer a week ago. Today I let go of the idea that I am a strong, fast hiker. Today I celebrated the moment.
I savored the time I spent without headphones on. I listened to the delirious silence of the woods in the morning. I “howdy”ed the young rodents. I smiled at the sun. And when I flipped on my tunes, I let the upbeat music jet out of my pores, spreading the jumpy joy everywhere.
And now I am high up a barren, rocky hill. The trees that sparsely populated this rugged terrain are wind ravaged. The billowing white clouds that hang in the sky are all tinged underneath with blue. The whole of the valley into Yosemite National Park is laid out below me, lined with evergreens, bounded by equally barren mountains.
Right now, without a care in the world or a thing on my to do list, I can honestly hum, “here’s to now.”