Thursday, December 23, 2010

Davis Mountain Shelter to Oakey Mountain Shelter

Fire and moon

11.8 miles

Shadow is beginning to be gimpy around camp. I’m worried I’m pushing him too hard, even though he isn’t really the reason my mileage hasn’t picked up. I’m trying to ease him into the hiking life. He seems to love it, but at the end of the day he’s as tired as both of us. All of it’s coming back to me—mainly the feeling of always wanting to have gone further, wanting more, more miles, even while my body wants to stop.

The last few miles coming into camp are always miserable. Always. That’s the thing about thru-hiking. It’s not enjoyable in the way that a day hike is, or even an overnight backpacking trip or a weekend can be. Because there’s always a push for more miles in a shorter time, an earlier time to wake up, a later time to get into camp. I’m always pushing myself for more to give to the trail.

So what is the point of those last however-many miles coming into camp? The ones where my head’s down, and Shadow’s head’s down, and his tail is down too, and we’re both just trying doggedly to get here, wherever there is? I don’t see anything in those miles. There’s nothing beautiful, or revelatory, or even noteworthy in them.

Adage goes: the journey is the destination. Maybe so. I know that Thich Naht Hanh discusses walking meditation, and I can understand that concept. There’s a fluidity of mind that come from walking, where the experience of walking itself becomes my focus, where I become mindful of my body’s motion and little else. My consciousness can just drift as my feet move through the leaves. I wish I had read more Thich Naht Hanh before I left, so I’d have a better idea as to how to use a walking meditation to focus my consciousness, rather than thinking about how tired or how much pain I’m in.

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