I recently lost this friend to the mountains. I doubt there is anywhere else in the world he would want to be lost, if it had to be his time. But, I miss him terribly.
Here is a poem, written by accomplished thru hiker Jonathan Ley (the tense has been changed), that Smooth used to explain his hiking addiction to his family. It resonates strongly with me too.
Why I Hike
I hike the trail because life is made of experiences, and I hope to have as many as possible.
I hike the trail because unfulfilled dreams become regrets, and I hope to have as few as possible.
I hike the trail to share in something unique that few have known or will ever know.
I hike the trail to experience beauty, to be immersed in it.
I hike the trail to see and to better understand the country I live in.
I hike the trail to learn about my own limitations.
I hike the trail to learn about how the world works and to better understand my place in the natural order of things.
I hike the trail to avoid living a life that had already been played out by countless others.
I hike the trail to think, to dream, to imagine and to reflect, unencumbered by the distractions of modern life.
I hike the trail to endure mental and physical hardships and perhaps become stronger as a result.
I hike the trail to separate my wants from my needs.
I hike the trail to meet people and learn from them.
I hike the trail to live an active life rather than a passive one.
I hike the trail to gain perspective, not only to think, but to live “outside the box.”
I hike the trail to be able to share the experience with others who either could not or did not care to do it themselves.
I hike the trail to achieve a level of physical conditioning I’d never thought possible.
I hike the trail to experience things that could not be described with words or pictures.
I hike the trail to live not in fear, but in wonder.
I hike the trail to embrace “my demons” and to decide to live with them, rather than run away from them.