The Long Distance Hiker

Written by Dan "Mellow Yellow" Klein.

… because I’m far better at moving forward than sitting still, I walked to Canada.

What a trip that is. Five months ago I stopped paying rent only to be dropped in the desert where I lay my hand upon the most bizarre wall separating Mexico from the United States, but now I’m wandering close, oh so close, to the Canadian border. In fact, I’m headed down into a valley. And I turn a corner; I’ve turned a lot of corners throughout the past five months. Only this time I turn that corner and I can see a clear-cut line extending east-west as far as I can see. There it is, the good ol’ U.S. of A. on my side of the line and Canada sits on the opposing side. They both look the same to me.

So I walk down to this clear cut. And sure enough, monument 78 is there, marking the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. A gang of hikers are sitting around, all smiles from ear to ear. Taking pictures, having a drink, enjoying a smoke, exchanging hugs and handshakes. I do the same as they do. Take my pictures, have a drink, give a few hugs and a few handshakes. Just like every single hiker who completed the trail this year has done, just like every hiker who came before me has done, and just like every hiker will do who follows in our wake. This thought crosses my mind, sure, but it doesn’t upset or depress me. It’s the way things should be. It is good.

Just as Mother Nature can humble a man, so can success. For all the individuality and uniqueness of each hiker and of each hike, ultimately it’s the same trail and the same accomplishment. Sure, what I took from the hike is something I cherish unlike anything else. And it certainly is something different from what any other hiker likely took from their experience. But, the big picture is one of a loose knit gang of wild and raucous men and women who couldn’t sit still. Who couldn’t climb just one mountain without yearning to discover what the view from the next was like. People who could set out to spend one night under the stars, only to find their heads weren’t yet cleared. We need more. And more. And more. That’s the story. Collectively it gets told and then told again, year after year along the trail, but also from small town to big city America.

Such a story is nothing less than mythic. Told and repeated annually, passed from person to person, year after year. A few hardy adventures hike from Mexico to Canada each year. Why? Because there is a trail connecting these two points. Some people have just got to know what lays between the two. 

And so that night we camped in Canada. We built a fire. We told stories. And we basked in the glow of our collective accomplishments. Another hiking season has come and gone and we are living proof that Adventure is not just something you read about in books and it aint some old timey idea from the past. If one can rouse the courage to let go of Security, Adventure's ancient adversary, he will find that Adventure is something tangible and within the grasp of anyone willing to reach out over the edge and take hold of it.