Will you make it?
Will you survive a long distance hike?
Most long distance hikers don't make it.
They start but don't finish.
Some don't even start
they get the heebie-jeebies the week before and pull out
The records show it.
Half of long distance hikers pull out in the first few weeks
Another 40% pull out along the way
That's the truth
on long distance hikes only 10%
of the starters finish.
Long distance hiking can be the hardest thing you ever tried
And the best.
So as the departure time approaches,
consider what we are about to do:
We will cover more than a half-marathon every day...
…not on the level but in 11,000' elevations
…not on a road but a rough trail...
…not merely in running shorts but with a heavy pack on our backs...
and this will be our short days-- the easy days.
For once we’re in shape
We’ll do about a marathon a day
When we finish the half-to-full marathon
…we will sleep on the ground..
…and get up the next day and do another 15-30 miles
,,then the next day do it again
for weeks and weeks,
for two months
This is no cake walk—take the challenge seriously.
But we will do it in good company...
...with meandering chats during late afternoon walks..
...and quiet sitting on tops of passes with wraparound vistas...
...and we will ache...
...and get so stiff an hour after stopping we can’t walk
...and we will forge life-time friendships...
...and our breath will be taken away at the views...
…and well climb through snowy passes…
...and along steep snow cliffs.. grasping our ice axes…
…and we will collapse in a lump after kicking footholes for hours over passes
...and we will want to quit...
...our foot will hurt strangely...
...our shoulder will have a funny ache we never had before...
...our knee will seem to be injured...
...we’ll get the runs for two days in a row...
But we will keep on...
...and our hiking companions will urge us on...
When we fall into bed we will be so exhausted
… we will sometimes sleep on
a 1" rock all night and not notice until ...
...and we'll get up and think of fried eggs and bacon…
…but eat a package of cookies... or gulp down a
package of dry oatmeal.
finally we’ll get to a town and get a cheap motel for a night
…and we’ll feel like we are in the finest
accommodations in the world...
...and we'll think a shower is worth $100.
...and we'll go eat two pizzas each..
...then order the main course.
...People will ask us where we started.
..They’ll not believe we walked from
We’ll celebrate in town... then quickly move on...
..before city life seduces us.
It will be tough,
but over time we’ll accommodate to life on the trail..
...we'll see a M&M dropped on the trail by someone,
Or a single cashew nut.
We will pick it up and eat it.
…without a thought.
It will rain
…we will hardly notice...
Weekender hikers will look so clean...
..their perfume or after shave lotion
…will linger half a mile in the air to our now-sensitive noses...
We will fall into a routine of 15-30 miles each day...
A “marathon” won’t be am extraordinary event
—just simply a hard day’s hike.
We'll get a little cocky..
...we'll say, "Lets do a 20 miles before lunch"
...or even "Let's knock off a 30 before dark."
...and we might do it..
...we might do a couple of marathons back to back.
...until walking 20-25 miles is a normal day...
...and crunching whatever we can buy in tiny mountain stores is normal food.
...the raw instant oatmeal washed down with cold water... will be pronounced "Excellent!”
We will forget what day it is.
We will look forward to mail in town from friends.
And send them post cards.
And think about their summer.
We will drop into a rhythm each day
Up earlier than we ever imagined we would rise.
Walk all day..
Walk alone often
Or with friends.
Our minds will wander,
Replay our life to date
Think about the future
Think about every friend we ever had
Every verse we ever memorized
Every sermon we can remember.
We will begin to get wisdom.
It will not come at once.
Indeed it may come unnoticeably and we may not know it is there
But it will come
For that is the effect of long distance hiking
We will plod on,
Dramatic postcard vistas will seem normal.
Miles will pass day by day
Rocks will change from granite to lava.
Trees will change.
The trail will get drier or wetter.
We will often be lost in thoughts
Or sometimes not lost in thoughts at all
We will realize that we’ve just walked for several hours
…and not thought a thing at all..
...an empty mind.
….just thoughts about nothing at all.
And we will realize that we’ve wound down.
Adopted a new pace.
Gotten new perspective.
...and it will be over,...
...and we'll be back on campus...
...or wherever we go next.
....and we will feel strangely out of place...
...as if we left home... where we "live" on the trail...
People will ask inane questions of us...
..."did you live off the land?"
..."did you get a lot of writing done"
..."so were you on a road?
..."I hear you HITCHhiked a thousand miles this summer...
They will not understand...
When we see each other again for the next 50 years,
we will greet each other like life-long friends.
We will know "this one understands.."
There will be a bond...
In a boring class or service sometime in the future
our mind will run a private video of our "mind memories"
…views we will remember when we are sixty, or eighty years old.
Next spring we will again think of the trail...
We will wonder how it is...
Every time we look at a map of the
...our eyes will drift to the route of this hike.
We will be permanently altered...
...we'll wonder how we could be so changed without a Bible study
…or planned "services"
…or with no small group activities...
…or no workbook...
But we will be different forever..
Our character will be altered...
...we will do hard things when we don't like them...
...we will stick with things that aren't always pleasant..
But most of all
…we will repeatedly see this hike influenced us most
...because it is a metaphor for life...
...life is a long distance hike...
...a job is a long distance hike...
...especially marriage is a long distance hike...
We will ponder the influence of this hike on our lives...
...and determine that the metaphor is what influenced us...
You’ll never be the same...
Keith Drury. On occasion: Leaving for the
Pacific Crest “Thousand Mile summer” backpacking trek from