Hiker Wisdom

Here are some thru-hiker-related quotations and thoughts on the passing scene that have brought some perspective for me about those who venture out on long-distance footpaths. 

“A house on your back.” —Colin Fletcher

“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” —Steven Wright

“When you get there, there isn’t any there there.” —Gertrude Stein

“Most of us were solitary adventurers in a great land as fresh and new as a spring morning, and we were free and full of the zest of darers.” —Charles Goodnight

“The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes ‘sight-seeing.'” —Daniel Boorstin

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” —William Barclay

When I was a just a kid, there was a man named Rick Hansen who, despite his physical impairment after an accident, inspired others in a most remarkable way. People need to be moved and draw optimism, especially when it looks hard. 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” —Lao Tzu

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” —Sir Edmund Hillary

“Arise, walk through the land in length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” —Genesis 13:17 (KJV)

“Don’t trust any decision that you make uphill.” —Common Thru-Hiking Expression

“Hike your own hike (HYOH).”  —Common Thru-Hiking Expression

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” —Sir Ranulph Fiennes

“This wasn’t in the brochure.” —Outback

“When it comes to thru-hiking, part of the plan is to not have a plan.” —Outback

“A thru-hike is kind of like a series of five-day backpacking trips.” —Outback

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” —Henry David Thoreau

“You pack your fears.” —Common Trail Expression

“You do not “carry” a pack, you “wear” a pack.” —Wayne Gregory

“There are no gains, without pains.” —Father Abraham

“Enjoying extraperambulatory activities.” —Colin Fletcher

“Carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care.” —Earl Shaffer

“Although the vast majority of walkers never even think of using a walking staff, I unhesitatingly include it among the foundations of the house that travels on my back.” —Colin Fletcher

“The trail is a teacher.” —Common Thru-Hiking Expression

“A hiker’s tent is his castle.”  —Colin Fletcher

“Going to the woods is going home.” —John Muir

“Except along flat, straight roads, miles are just about meaningless.  Hours are what count.” —Colin Fletcher

“Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” —John Muir

“Discussions on backpacking ought to begin with the personal pronoun “I.”  —Outback

“I’m more worried about the human animals.” —Common Thru-Hiking Expression

“I halt every hour with fairly mechanical regularity, modifying slightly to suit terrain.” —Colin Fletcher

“Never leap a chasm in two bounds.” —George Will

I’ll conclude with this brief thought. A person can easily squander their entire life away waiting for the “perfect” opportunity to arrive, for things to line up, and for all the doors to open. Playing it safe, however, can mean losing out completely on something extraordinary. Then there’s the “if-it’s-meant-to-be” approach, which usually yields mediocre results at best. What’s that Milton Berle line? “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Have some courage and initiative. Find a way. Excuses are for the half-hearted. Take some risks. Do something about it! Time is in short supply.

Live undeterred.

Yours truly, Outback.   

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