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 fourth book, I dove into “Wild by Nature” by Sarah Marquis.
“Leave No Trace” should be the bedrock of every hiker’s time in the wild. Simply, it means that no one and nothing should ever know you were there. Every item of food, every item of gear, and everything you brought with you should leave with you. This allows the delicate balance between nature and man to stay intact. To read, “Into Thin Air,” is to read a story of men and women hellbent on spoiling nature in pursuit of standing on the highest point in the world. A mountainside littered with human waste, oxygen tanks, and bodies of the fallen fills almost every inch of every page. It is enough to frustrate and infuriate the most passive of nature loves.
There are very few challenges in this world like summitting Mt. Everest. In the grand scheme of things, my attempt at a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail next year fails in comparison. Still, something similar is required of both adventures. Everything will hurt. Everything in your mind will be telling you to quit. Every day will bring its own unique struggle. To overcome these moments, I will be required to overcome myself. I will need to listen to my body and rest when possible. I will need to summon to the surface my reasons for hiking this distance in the first place. I will need to look as each struggle as one more mountain to summit on my way to Canada.
When Things Go Wrong
Without a doubt, on any adventure into the wilderness, things will go wrong. For me, I’ve run out of water. I’ve gotten myself lost. I traveled with a pack that’s too heavy. I’ve cut hikes short because of exhaustion. I’ve hiked in the dark without proper lighting. Each one of these experiences was a learning opportunity, but at the moment, they forced me to remain calm and think through my challenges. Now, these lessons don’t compare to the sadness experienced on Everest in this book, but the same sense of thinking clearly remains the same.
The Violence of Nature
We live sheltered lives. We travel from home to work and back again. Our journeys into the wild are only temporary. Local parks, beaches, or visits to national parks are the only interactions some of us will ever have. A small number of us will choose a longer engagement. An even smaller number will choose to make this their whole life. No matter your level of engagement, nature continues marching on with or without us. It is comprised of life, death, harmony, balance, destruction, dismay, and courage. It can be a friend or an enemy. How we respond and how we prepare will often decide our fate. For me, in 2020, I am hoping to wrestle with this line and come out on the winning side. I need to know where I stand. Standing firmly in my respect, I know where nature stands.
Be good to each other,
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