Thursday, July 19, 2007
Hi Pack & Paddle Folks,
I am posting a trail journal entry from a Hiker with the trail name, Tha Wookie. In this entry, Tha Wookie (AKA Nate Olive) journals about something Becky and I thought of many times on the AT, but had trouble putting into words. Nate has hiked the AT, the PCT and was the first to hike the entire west coast from Canada to Mexico:
It was interesting to me that in all this solitude and distance from any town that I should meet a southbound section hiker who knows me from the internet. It has happened before, out in the hills of Georgia and then in Southern California, but neither were as a remote a location.
We paused in a mosquito-slapping descent into Cascade Valley to meet Kent, who told us of his readings online to keep up with this year's hikers. "Beats work", he said. Indeed. But it doesn't beat going out and doing it yourself. We were happy to see someone doing both. As for work, it sometimes saddens me to come across those who believe that they are somehow obligated to trade their freedom for the duty demanded by the protestant/corporate so-called "ethic".
I certainly can't speak for anyone but myself, and some really need the money for child support or perhaps to pay medical bills for a loved one, but more often it comes down to choice. I say this because so many we meet attribute our good fortune of life to "luck". "Wow! You're hiking to Canada (or Main, or Durango, or across Athens, etc.)! You are lucky!" True, we are lucky. We were born into supportive families. But as much as they nurtured and educated us, they did not put us on this trail. We've made choices -- sacrifices -- to get where we are. We did not float here on a magic Tyvek groundsheet. We are free, but not of reality. The fact that we hike is our choice.
If it was baseball, we'd be heros and respected for our "work ethic". It's ironic that "work" is only considered to be when one is paid. Then truly, we both worked to afford the trek. One of the things I did was sit in the forest and administer Forest Service interviews to visitors. Now I walk 20+ miles a day, and it is considered a vacation by some. Perhaps the common notion of "work" really is that which robs ones mental freedom. Then I suppose we ought to be compensated for watching the Tee-Vee.
The truth is that while people look me in the eye and say, "That's my dream. That's what I want to do", or maybe they had some other "fantasy" they claim to wish to live, they really don't mean it. They claim to desire freedom, but what they'd rather have is perceived security. Or maybe a car. Or a house. Or maybe a garden. Those are their choices, and mine are mine.
Freedom is not just found in the wilderness. Can a man not be free in all his endeavors, even when he profits by them? It is time we are held accountable for our choices in life. This planet is suffering severely because so many Americans refuse to do so. The economy did not make us nor will it break us. What will break us is not just when we only look out for ourselves (we're past that), but when we start looking out for those who distract us from our dreams. Don't sit there with a Big Mac and a lottery ticket and tell me about your aspirations. Instead, be like Kent, and send me a postcard.
In the meantime, I'll be in my office. Tha Wookie
I have planted this journal entry in our Blog for another reason. We have arranged for Nate to be our first major speaker when we open our new room at the end of September. Mark your calendars for September 29th for a very special evening of incredible photography, great stories and original live music that will bring you into the Thru Hiking world of Tha Wookie.