8 lessons I learned while section hiking the Appalachian Trail

After finishing my freshman year, I went on a 10-day 120-mile trip with my Dad on the Appalician trail through the smokey mountains. I had a lot of time to reflect on the trail, and i recorded everything in a small paper journal. Unfortunately, I lost the journal on the airplane back to San Francisco, over the course of the few weeks after the trip I’ve slowly come to realize what made the trip so important. So in place of my journal I made this list of 8 lessons I learned on the trail that we can apply to “fake world” (not “real-world).

“Happiness is the state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without reservation or regret”

– Dr. William H Sheldon.
  1. Notice what you notice

On the very first day on the trail, I was looking over a pass with dad and he asked me what I saw, the mere question helped me appreciate the scenic landscape more. Being surrounded by trees and greenery makes you reflective. Nature is the perfect empathetic mirror. Nature is stimulating without demanding our attention as the man-made stimulus is. Therefore, our attention follows its natural path and in this way is a form of self-reflection, and even self-restoration. We naturally focus on what we are drawn to. When we notice what we are drawn to and we naturally project our own state of being onto our surrounding through our gaze. When in our life will i be surrounded by green for hours and days at a time.

“don’t let the hiking get in the way of the hike”

-written on the wall of fontanda hilton, a shleter we stayed in on day six.

2. Gaining Perceptive. we came over the newfound gap and started a trek upwards, dad pointed out that the vegetation was very different here than what we were walking down through on the way into newfound gap. I then connected

3. confidence I am doing things I’ve never done and didn’t know if I could do. going long distances and looking out is rewarding to see what we accomplished but it is also rewarding to know that I can walk long long ways. Big tasks become smaller when we realize that the act of going is much more simple.

“I like to suffer and its pretty”

a through-hikers (checklist) response when I asked her why she was hiking the Appalachian trail

4. Appreciation Appreciate the basic things, like a shower or real food.

5. Resilience Calm under pressure: Spilling dinner, when we thought we lost the bag of valuables

6. Generosity the trail brings out the best in people, and in a way, we joined a convent, an intentional community of like-minded people.

7. Anchoring now that I have been off the trail. I think to myself, what would trail Brooke do. Long term thinking and surrounded by greenery helps you take a step back and realize what is important.

8. Family matters It was cool to talk to dad for a long time about his past and my first year at college and to learn from him. I am amazed at how similar we are to each other. Every day I become more and more like you, and I love that. My dad will not be able to do the trail forever.

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