For my 2019 writing challenge and in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail in 2020, I am spending the entire year reading and writing about books focused on a journey. For my third book, I dove into “Walking the Amazon” by Ed Stafford.
There are major differences between preparing to hike the entire length of the Amazon River from Peru to Brazil and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. When Ed Stafford decided to undertake the pioneering journey of walking the Amazon River, costs, guides, customs, terrain, safety, length of the journey and much more had to be taken into account. This doesn’t mean there aren’t similarities between the two and it all comes down to the very act of preparation. Financially situating yourself, physically finding a comfort zone, struggles with food and water, and mentally finding a sweet spot are all steps that must be taken no matter if the journey last six months or 2 years.
The Odd Man Out
In order for Stafford to make this journey, he had to rely on guides who knew the countryside well and could help him make sense of what he was seeing on the maps. This often meant overcoming language barriers and periods of isolation even when he found himself in a group of people. As I think on my own journey that I will soon undertake with a dear friend of mine, I worry about those situations where we meet people on the trail we don’t click with despite our best efforts. From everything I read, I know we are bound to create a hiker family who we will rely on to reach the northern terminus. I also know we will audition other people more or less experienced than us or who possess personalities different than ours. Handling these situations without offending anyone weighs heavily on my mind.
Your Body Falling Apart
Our modern selves are not built to hike the length of the Amazon River or the Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail or any other long-distance journey. This means tricking your body into working through the pain, sore muscles, and mental anguish. When everything is falling apart and your body is screaming to stop, it will also be getting stronger at the same time. Calves will strengthen, backs will tighten, feet will grow, and muscles will endure because, in the end, the human body is a pretty amazing thing capable of great feats if tested. A five-month journey will no doubt test mine.
In all the books you read about thru-hikes, there is something that is often overlooked; boredom. This book does an excellent job of addressing that subject. Being forced or choosing to do the same thing over and over again every single day naturally leads to monotony and boredom. In a year’s time, my life will be about sleeping, eating, hiking, sleeping, eating, hiking, sleeping, eating, and hiking. When I am out on the trail, I will need to discover ways of entertaining myself, because I know my love of nature will not be enough. Photography, writing, capturing video, podcasting, podcasts, audio books, and reading are all things I am considering to add something new to every day.
Be good to each other,
Last month, 524 people read an article on Natetheworld.com. If you were one of them, please consider supporting this website with a monthly gift. Your support means everything and proves to the world that original content still matters.