A journal excerpt from January 16th, 2016:
Amidst my merriment in hiking through the snow and splendor in watching the flurries fall through the fog like a thousand glistening feathers, a familiar array of questions began to surface.
While hiking I often wonder what it is I’m chasing, and why I continuously wish to be outside hiking and pushing up a mountain- especially when the conditions are as cold and wet as today. Is it the mountains I crave or is it something more? Maybe, I am chasing mountains? Or maybe, I’m chasing something within- a lingering hunger that my daily life back home has failed to satisfy? I believe it’s both.
There are few things in life that I’ve found more fulfilling than a successful mountain trek. There’s something alluring about outlasting the unexpected and surviving the flood of emotions that a mountain forces upon you- the pains from blisters and cold hands, the displeasure of wet socks and slushy boots, the unavoidable failures, unexpected changes, and the strange bliss of going lost. It's the cycle of surviving the wild and returning- the opportunity to repeatedly see how much more my body and soul can endure that makes the wilderness such a horrifically invigorating and addictive place. This longing to be tested and the opportunity to fight for something is why I'm out here again today.
I believe those who regularly return to the outdoors realize they desperately need the very discomforts, pains, risks, and sudden changes that so many try to avoid in the western world. In the wilderness you can’t run from change and hardship. You face them, whether you want to or not. And in facing your fears and pain, you discover everything you’ve longed for. The wilderness, like the soul, holds secrets and treasures that are only found by those who pass through and endure further than they believed possible. I wonder what humanity would be if all emotions and needed experiences were as unavoidable as they are out here?
I’ve found the wilderness’ most treasured endowments hide in the violent feelings and impetuous situations that it forces onto us. I appreciate that there’s never an immediate escape out here. No one is hiding. No one is seeking instant gratification. There’s no alcohol to momentarily numb pain, women to divert us from loneliness, and screens to distract us from what we could find in the silence. That’s what makes the wilderness so invigorating- it forces you to feel. And I’ve learned the further I allow myself to feel my pains and fears, exert myself physically, and push through them, the more deeply I feel alive and free; and the greater I appreciate my experiences in the end.
For too long I ran from situations that could lead to pain and discomfort, and failed to realize that the life I longed for could only be found in traveling through the things I was running from. The wilderness has shown me that freedom often lies on the other side of pain, the significance and success I look for rises in overcoming failure, and the desire to feel untamed waits for me beyond the edge of my comfort.
Therefore, I don’t come out here to run or escape. I come out here to feel alive. I come out here to find myself. I come out here to repeatedly test and push myself against the wilderness both around me and within me, because I’ve learned that I need both equally to continue to grow and evolve, and most importantly, to feel alive.
There’s no questioning in these woods- I’m awakened.
In these mountains and pushing through my pains and exhaustion, I grow.
And on this trail,
I feel free.
That is why I return.
Home is fatal,
And staying in my comforts, a poison.
I’m jumping over my fences,
I'm running into the woods.
I wish to find myself lost in a wilderness.
I long to get out, but I know not how,
And I know not where to begin; though
I would guess my journey probably starts within...