So it seems to have been a world-setting kind of week (or couple of weeks).
Most of you have probably heard the story of the two guys who spent just over two weeks scaling El Capitan, the Dawn Wall, in Yosemite National Park.
My reactions to the news (and the photos of the vertical ascent) tended to fall into two main categories: “Wow, that’s really cool!” and “What the heck are you guys thinking!”
We’ve all heard stories like this in the hiking/outdoors community. Sure, most of us have probably heard of people who’ve thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in x amount of weeks, or ran the length of the California Coastal Trail in x amount of days, or some guy who hiked the entire length of the Palisades in one day (yes, I know someone who’s done that).
Makes me feel like a total slacker – I mean, I haven’t been able to get in much hiking lately. Heck, there are days when I can barely muster the energy to compose my blog postings. (But some of that, gentle reader, is writer’s block.)
So what drives people to do stuff like this, record-setting hikes or rock climbs or long-distance runs? “Because it’s there,” tends to be one reason. Others might be doing it to impress the Guinness people. Or maybe it’s simply for fitness. Or spiritual reasons. Or trying to overcome some kind of physical or mental burden. Who knows? We’ve all got our own reasons for putting on our boots and shouldering our packs.
I just finished Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods,” his experiences on hiking the Appalachian Trail. The whole book reads kinda like “National Lampoon,” let’s face it. But it ends on a really sweet note, with Bryson declaring his AT trip finished during one very scenic stopover atop Killington Peak in Vermont.
“We didn’t walk 2,200 miles, it’s true, but here’s the thing: we tried. So Katz was right after all, and I don’t care what anybody says. We hiked the Appalachian Trail.”
I think the lesson here, kids, is set your own goals and hike for your own reasons, whether it’s a short hike or a 19-day rock climb.
So if you feel up to taking on a fourteener, that’s fine. If you’re only up to walking up that little hill in the park, that’s fine too. Even if you haven’t done a hike, or a climb, for the record books, you’ve still hiked.