Thanks for coming along with my "blow by blow" of the Mt. Whitney hike. I had originally not intended to write the entire trip out in a single stream, but like many such things, once one gets started it is hard to not continue the narrative without getting too off track.
Monday, September 05, 2022
Hiking, Signs, And Locations
As promised (and actually, probably more challenging for me) I wanted to start to write into some of the experiences and observations from the hike, not just on a "this is what we did and saw" but "this is what I observed and learned". I am reluctant to say that somehow those are any better than just the scenic beauty and accomplishments - which were indeed astounding! - but they have as much relevance as the scenic beauty, although of course there are really no pictures to document it.
Hiking on a journey like this struck me as to the merging into different locations as we walked along. We moved from national park to national forest to specific pass and back, all while essentially staying on the same trail. If one was looking from the outside, one could not tell where one border ended and another began, only that we were on the trail heading between two points with a goal in mind.
But really, is that not life? We - or perhaps only I - look for the clear dividing lines that push us from one stage or time to another. But more often than not, it is not the case: we wander back and forth between stages and groupings, perhaps thinking that we are in one area when in point of fact we never left the previous stage.
Signs can be important on the trail - after all, they indicated trails and boundaries and precisely where to go. In an age of electronic gadgetry, this seems somewhat less important than what it once might have been, right up to the point that the battery dies or the service no longer connects and one is left following the trail that is in front of one in hopes that it really does lead where everything else said it was going.
In reality, of course, these observations of things - not just the environment, but interactions, thoughts, learnings - are signs of their own. Perhaps not as clearly delineated as the post in the ground with a plaque on it instructing us where we are going and where we are coming from, but signs none the less. To stride by these mental signs, to only remember and glory in the physical beauty around one, seems to me as great a mistake as to ignore the scenery and concentrate 100% on what one might have learned.
In the end of course, it becomes a great dance: in life, as is hiking, we pass in and out of geographic indications defined no more clearly in our mind than in a forest. Sometimes it may feel we have made no progress at all; other times we feel we have far outstripped where should be, only to find out the progress made was far less than anticipated. But irrespective of the signs themselves, we continue the journey, knowing that as long as we stay on the path and follow the signs, we will end up where we intended at the start of the hike.
We need not always understand precisely where we are, only that we are the correct path.