Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: The Simple Life
One of the nicest things about the trail reveals itself the most when you’re no longer out there. It is the beautiful simplicity that exists while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Life on the trail is simple, you get up, you hike, you camp, repeat. Sure, there are a thousand details within each of those steps. Hiking is an activity that is incredibly mindful, on the trail you have to focus on nearly every step. Rarely, but it happens, do you get trail where you don’t have to focus on your steps. It seems that most days on the trail, the minute you stop focusing on your feet you catch a root or a rock and trip, sometimes fall. We all fall on the trail it’s just part of the gig.
The other thing about the trail is that your relationships are transitory and simple. Most of us came out on to the trail alone and as such there are no obligations. Sure from time to time we form groups but these really are loose affiliations and when the pace or the goals of the group no longer fit we just move on. Also, a lot of people (70% or more) who start the trail quit, so a lot of people that we started with are no longer on the trail. Yet, I feel far lonelier off the trail than I do when I’m out there. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that once you start to simplify your life you start to connect and focus on the necessary. This definitely extends to the connection to nature we feel when we’re on the trail and to more significant connections with the people we are around.
Finally, the simplicity extends to our senses as well, particularly to noise. The forest is so much quieter than the default world. The best way I can describe this is that at night when I retire to my hammock I usually listen to music for a time. On the trail I have my mp3 on the lowest volume level, but once back in town and on a train for instance, I have to have the volume on nearly the highest volume level. That light ringing in your ear you hear at the end of the day when everything is quiet, well, I no longer have that after a couple of months on the trail.
We have talked many times on the blog before about the benefits of simplifying our lives, being on the trail has absolutely done that, and provided many happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane