Three Things I Wanted
Last week I was thrilled to get an email from an acquaintance I met several years ago. (Hi, Bean!)
She was my hero when I met her because she was downsizing, living with her husband in a camper and plotting escape to life on the road. In a camper. With pets. She’s doing it now and blogging about it at yukonandbean.com.
A total inspiration.
She was surprised at the twists and turns my life has taken over the years, so here’s what I wrote back to her:
“Hitting the road was always something I wanted to do.
As a kid I wanted three things—1) a Chinook camper (I sent for the brochure when I was ten and kept that brochure through high school) so I could take epic road trips; 2) an art studio in my backyard, if I ever settled down; and 3) mountains all around.
So I wouldn’t say I actually did a 180 turn. It’s more like I recognized myself and started embracing what's important to the real me.
Hiking the Appalachian Trail was just an accessible way to start honoring my nomadic tendencies!”
Base Camp on Wheels
Now, my husband and I are shopping for a van to convert into a minimalist RV, the key word being "minimalist." I'm not so interested in road trips, per se. My dream has evolved because I prefer walking now over driving. The "epic road trip" is a means to an end, a way to get to the trail head for the "epic saunter."
So all we need is a van with a bed and a stove, solar panels on the roof and a place to store loaded backpacks, my tiny sketching kit and dog paraphernalia. It’s a base camp on wheels.
Because the idea now is to hike more, drive less.
Hike more, drive less. It's good in so many ways.
This long distance hiking thing is, by the way, an idea more women should embrace. All women, really. Of all ages, but especially older women who've spent their lives looking at brochures without ever taking the actual plunge into their dream.
Long distance hiking changes lives in the most positive ways and in ways that driving around never will. It opens the doors to all sorts of dreams and gives you to confidence to pursue them.
We'll get back to the connection between hiking and dreaming in good time, but for now, let me just make a quick case for walking more and driving less.
A Case for Walking More
1. It's gentler on our planet. And our glorious planet needs all the help it can get right now.
2. It increases my connection to the planet. One way to care about said glorious planet is to get to know it better. I may cover less ground while walking, but I cover it mindfully. Slowing down helps open my eyes to the tiniest units of beauty, like the new type of salamander I "discovered" outside my tent one evening in Tennessee. Or the owl that discovered me one night on Max Patch, hovering over my head for a few seconds before disappearing into the starry night.
Slowing down to two miles/hour expands my capacity to wonder about the world around me and to love it even more deeply. Have you seen the way the rocks glitter in Maine? Did you know that lichens bloom? Glorious!
3. It's better for my body. Humans were made to move. A lot more than I was moving before I thru-hiked. The daily practice of walking ten to fifteen miles a day makes me feel alive and strong and healthier than I've ever felt. Did you see my hiker quads? Seriously bad ass!
4. It nourishes more than my body. It "works" on my emotional, mental and soul levels, too. I don't listen to podcasts or music much while I hike. And I hike alone a lot of the time, too, with the intention of solving a problem or knowing myself more deeply, addressing a fear or practicing radical forgiveness.
The key is setting intentions for your walk and being open to what comes.
Because something always comes during the rhythmic, hypnotic action of walking, breathing, being alone in nature.
Have I missed anything? What does hiking do for you that driving doesn't quite manage? Or what do you get out of driving that hiking doesn't deliver? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts...I'm really curious.