Sunday, September 18, 2022

Mt. Whitney 2022: Rule Of Five

 So likely this will be the last post on Whitney for awhile.

It is certainly not that I have exhausted my picture store - oh, there are still plenty of pictures! - as I have my immediate thoughts on it.  It is almost a month in the rearview mirror now, and while the changes are there in me, life is clicking along at a pretty good pace.  Smelling the roses is important, but smelling them only to the exclusion of other things does not move the needle in other areas.

With that said, here are the Mt. Whitney Rule of Five.


1)  You really can do more than you think.

This is probably self evident to my readers, but not always to me:  simply put, I often do not believe myself capable of things and so, do not attempt them. It is remarkable what one can do when effectively one has shut off all other avenues of escape - like, for example, being three days away from civilization and having no other choice but to go up.


2)  Tuning out is really a rather good thing.

Among all the things I did miss during my hike, the world was not one of them.  7.5 days of being "unavailable" to the world and current events was a blessing that I did not fully appreciate until it was forced on me.  True, having beautiful scenery and no other worries helps, but sometimes the world really is too much with us.


3)  We underrate the value of simplicity but forget it is built on complexity.

On one hand, we can get so trapped in the complexities of our lives and our stuff that we cannot accomplish much.  On the other hand, we can so simplify our life that suddenly we do not have the things we need to accomplish much.  All of us carried our homes on our backs for eight days - but that was because it was limited hike and we all had clothing and supplies that made having those few useful things possible.

There is a balance between simplicity and complexity, of having too much and not enough, that we need to keep in mind.


4) Isolating people from their environments makes things work better.

One of the noticeable things on the hike is that - by and large - we all got along pleasantly enough.  When we would interact with other hikers, they were pleasant interactions:  "Hi?  How are you doing?  Where are you headed?  How long have you been on the trail?"  The fact of doing an activity that was enjoyable combined with the fact that almost no-one actually had any idea what was going on "out there"  made for truly enjoyable interactions.  And there was almost an unspoken rule - at least in our group - that the outside world was not to be discussed, at least except for personal adventures.  Yes, once or twice it was violated (it always somehow is), but it really just died there, if for no other reason than no-one else engaged.

I wonder:  Is part of the problem of why in general we so often clash with people because of the fact that all that is around us is telling us how to react instead of ourselves?


5)  The world is big, we are small.

No mystery to most people that think or read those blogs to right, but the world is much bigger - and resilient - than we can possibly imagine.  We get caught up in our small views of world, trapped in cities or urban areas, and come to believe that Nature "out there" is just like Nature "here".  It is in kind, but not in grandeur or size or space.  I hiked 83 miles in a wilderness and still likely saw a very small portion of it, a far smaller portion than I would likely see if I drove 83 miles between one city and another.  Likely in that drive, I would become depressed by the similarity of all the urban centers I passed.  In hiking, I was continually amazed by the variety and scope of the landscape.

12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post, filled with lovely gems of life-lesson wisdom. I appreciate the way you think about things!

    "Is part of the problem of why in general we so often clash with people because of the fact that all that is around us is telling us how to react instead of ourselves?"

    I think so. There seems to be a general lack of self-confidence in people nowadays, so that they rely on peer approval or that ancient excuse, "everybody else is doing it." That, and people no longer seem to know the difference between opinion and fact.

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    1. Thank you Leigh.

      The more I think about that particular statement, the more true I think it is. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that it often feels like we are no longer teaching people how to think, but what to think - and not to question.

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  2. Nylon125:22 AM

    Tuning out is difficult for so many to do when that cell phone/social media is at their thumb tips. Leaving a remark is a trying experience this morning, thanks Google you pile of insufferable.....(bleep) (bleep)

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    1. Nylon12, funny how addicted we all can get. And yours is not the first complaint I have heard about Blogger today.

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  3. I like the #3. Resonates with me. I adopted this definition of elegance: as simple as it can be made, but no simpler. There is a balance.

    Thank you for the trip series. And this summation of lessons learned. An after action report is a valuable exercise.

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    1. STxAR, I had originally written that as something like "The Importance of Simplicity", but realized that simplicity is not enough. Without an entire background of things, that simplicity could not exist. In a way, it is like people who follow minimalism now, not precisely understanding that minimalism works as a lifestyle because we live in a modern world where things are readily available and often just in time - and also that the small slice of simplicity we experience is due to a lot of things in the background supporting it.

      And you are more than welcome. Written these makes me pay more attention when I am out, which is a good exercise in awareness for me.

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  4. When I was younger and we did a lot of backpacking in the mountains for weeks at a time, we didn't have the electronics we have now so it wasn't shocking to check out. But we had a rule to leave our wristwatches in the vehicle at the trailhead which is sort of a precursor to electronics. We just got up, ate and went to sleep when we felt like it.

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    1. Ed, that makes sense given the era. That said, I can confidently say I never looked at my phone as a watch - except when I was seeing precisely how early I was going to bed.

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  5. I like your rule of 5, TB. And I thank you, again, for sharing your trip with us.
    You all be safe and God bless.

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    1. Linda, I am a simple man. And I have five fingers (really, four fingers and a thumb) on each hand. It makes them easier to remember.

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  6. Rule 5 is nice. I've been through mile after mile of wilderness on trail, and only seen a small portion of it, but I've seen more than most people ever will.

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    1. John, the more I think about it, the more I think that we continue to urbanize, we continue to shrink our view of the world - not just in psychological distance (thanks, InterWeb), but the view of the earth. So many seem to come to believe that the world out there is just as small and limited as urban environments.

      Also, I suppose we do not like to get reminded how truly small and insignificant we are in the grand scope of the natural world of Earth (let alone the Cosmos).

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