Monday, May 12, 2008

Good, Bad, and Ugly

When reminiscing about something that happened in the past, we often have the tendency to forget the bad parts and remember only the best of the experience. I’m sure I have done just that, especially right now since I am planning to go out again. Why would I want to remember the bad?

For me, one of the best parts of hiking is being outside, enjoying nature.  In spring, the wildflowers and blooming shrubs and trees are just fantastic.  Another thrill for me is meeting the other hikers.  Like I said earlier, we usually don’t have much in common, but we bond through our love of hiking.

This may sound a little crazy, but part of the thrill of a long distance hike is being able to survive in the “wilderness” with only the things I can carry on my back.  Perhaps it’s the challenge and the skills developed meeting that challenge that I enjoy.  Perhaps it’s just the simplicity of living on the trail.  Whatever it is, I truly love long distance hiking.

However, it’s not all a euphoric experience.  The truth of the matter is there are some not so much fun parts to long distance hiking. Several things come to mind and I don’t really know which one should have the distinction of being the number 1 worst thing. So let me just mention a few.

There are other things out there that are alive besides you. These are the creepy crawlies. They usually have many legs. Some of these things you can’t even see the legs but you know they are there. They are the color of the ground so you don’t see them until they are crawling on you. All spiders, centipedes and millipedes fall into this category as well as all bugs. I would also include snakes and mice in this group although they are not as much of a bother as the smaller critters.

Along this same line, but a little different are the cob webs. In the dark of night all the spiders come out to build webs that stretch across the trail right at face level. In the morning, the hiker walks into web, after web, after web until his skin is literally crawling with imaginary spiders. Once the temperature rises and the sweat starts to pour, along come the gnats. These are thirsty little demons in search of the moisture around your eyes. They hover there, at whatever speed you are walking, just inches from your face.

My favorite time of the day is eating time. Of course there is no table to put your food bag on, or anything else for that matter, to keep it off the ground. Invariably ants will find their way into my food bag. But ants are not the worst. In Georgia the flying squirrels got in to my food bag once and into Gene’s twice.

For a couple days it is not so bad, but after several days the taste of Iodine water becomes unpleasant to me. I long for a tall glass of ice cold, pure and clean water. And I can’t stand to have “floaties” in my water, either.

Well, maybe there is a number one worst thing. For me I think it might be five days worth of sweat on my clothes. Or is it just the smell of five days worth of sweat on my clothes. Whatever, it’s bad and I have this disgusted feeling about myself and a bit of nausea rising from my stomach. The flowers might be pretty but you can’t smell the roses for my shirt.

Ah, it’s good to be on the trial again!!??

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