Happy Tuesay, friends! I hope the week is off to a good start. We’re gearing up for some extreme weather around here. Don’t even get me started on the fact that it’s 75 degrees and we’re worried about tornados in January. It’s putting a serious damper on an otherwise good mood. Moving on…
Do you guys remember this book that I told you about a few weeks ago?
Well, I finally picked it up yesterday, and I’m hooked. Michael Lanza does an excellent job of weaving the serious topic of climate change with the amazing adventures that he and his family experienced during one epic year. I’m not even very far in, and I’m already anticipating giving you guys a stellar review of this one.
On the back flap of the book jacket, I noticed that, not only is Mr. Lanza a Backpacker editor (you know I’m sold), but he also runs a website called The Big Outside. I’ve spent a majority of the day perusing it, and there are so many great ideas there for whatever adventure your looking for. Michael covers everything from endurance hikes and kayaking trips to cross-country skiing and trips you can take with your kids.
One of the articles I was reading was about how he and a few friends thru-hiked the John Muir Trail in seven days. I talked about the John Muir awhile back-it’s one of the ones John and I would very much like to do. For those of you who don’t know, that trail is 221 miles long. Most people take 3 weeks or longer to hike it so doing it in seven days is beyond my scope of imagination.
What struck me most about this article (besides the sheer insanity of it) was one picture that was posted of a member of the group. The foreground of the picture was of the bottom of her feet. They were torn up with a ton of blisters and tape around every single one of her toes. What was so striking about the picture was that she was grinning from ear to ear.
I thought to myself, “This is why people think we’re crazy.” Who it their right mind would put their feet and the rest of their body through such brutality, and still be as happy as a clam? And perhaps the part that is most insane is that I know exactly how she was feeling when that photograph was snapped.
We backpackers are a rare breed (although I’m fairly certain runners are also playing without a full deck). Last summer after our trip through Glacier, I sported scabs all the way across my hips from my backpack strap, and was oddly sad when they started to fade. The summer before, I sat down at the trailhead after our 4 day hike, pulled my boots off, and discovered this:
(So sorry for the horrible phone photo!)
I still tell that story with barely contained glee (a story I will tell you all about in a post I’m planning next week!) So why do we do it? Why are we willing to put our bodies through these extremes?
Aside from the fact that I think a part of it is shert delirium, the pay off is so rewarding. Blisters on our feet remind us that they have carried us miles so that we can experience wonders that relatively few will ever see. When I return to the comfort of my home with it’s running water, fridge full of food, and pillow-top mattress, a quick glance in the mirror at the marks on my hips tells me that for a moment in time I was able to survive and thrive with nothing more than what I can carry on my back.
Please understand I’m in no way advocating injury as a means of accomplishment. Trail safety is a serious subject not to be taken lightly. I’m simply saying that these realities of the trail are part of a greater narrative. One that makes the pain or hardships we experience pale in comparsion.
I loved reading the story of how they pushed through and accomplished such an amazing feat. That feeling you get when you know if you’ve done something truly amazing is worth a few blisters in my book. Maybe that does make us a little crazy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What hardships are “worth it” for you?