Don’t Be Afraid to be Happy

Don’t Be Afraid to be Happy

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain..          Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear (From the novel Dune by Frank Herbert)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fear in our society.  Fear really holds us back in a lot of ways.  One of the frustrating things for me is that what I often see is that people are very often afraid of the wrong things.  What do I mean by that? In an average year in America, one person dies by shark attack, however around thirty die by dog attack.  However, I bet far more of you would be willing to walk up and pet a strange dog in the park than would swim in the ocean.  Fear is not a rational activity, which is why so many more people fear sharks than dogs.  Now I know what you’re thinking, there are no sharks in my pool at home.  However, in a given year about 60 – 70 people die of drowning each year.

In America fear has become rampant, in addition to sharks, we fear being murdered by gang members, blown up by terrorists and dying in plane crashes.  Of course murder rates have been declining for 30 years (except in a couple of urban cities), you are about as likely of being killed in a terrorist attack as winning the lottery and plane travel is safer than traveling by car.  Ok, so we’re afraid of the wrong things, why is that?

Fear is a psychological phenomenon, the idea of being torn about by a shark or falling out of the sky is so horrifying that it magnifies the danger in our minds.  Add to that something like Jaws and pretty much sharks become utterly terrifying.  What we have to also remember is that fear is a business in America.  You see fear sells newspapers, pumps up cable news ratings, sells us types of insurance we don’t need.  Remember all of those stranger child abduction and molestations in the 1980’s and those poor kids that were abducted by Satanic Cults?  Those stories sold a lot of newspapers and books, only one problem, they never happened.  But bring it up at work tomorrow and I bet you can find someone who will swear it all happened.  We are bombarded daily, heck hourly, by things that are meant to scare us so that people can make money off of us.

How do you beat the cycle.  First, the next time you are hesitant about doing something that scares you look up the facts.  Knowing the real risks might make that step a little easier.  Stop watching cable news, something my friend Rich bugged me about for years, even though I was watching very little by that point, stopping made me happier.  There was a time when I would usually have CNN Headline News on in the background at home.  Loop after loop of the same stories, murder, death and destruction as a running commentary in my life. Later, as I still tuned into CNN once a day for an hour, it really was more of the same, shallow stories meant to make me nervous and not want to risk missing what else might be happening.  Please understand, I’m not suggesting you ignore what’s going on in the world, just that you take it in small doses from sources that are not as inflammatory as cable news.  I scan the headlines online from CNN and if I see something that looks interesting I dive in on sites with more substance.  Sites like the Christian Science Monitor, the BBC, the NY Times or Al Jazeera.  Especially sites like the Christian Science Monitor take a nice deep dive, you won’t get a story ten minutes after an event, but you’ll get a non-biased in-depth analysis.

Finally, as we’ve discussed before, happiness is a choice, as is fear.  The quote above about fear from the novel Dune, is one I love and good advice.  For me, what gets me past my fear in most instances is taking an honest look at two things.  What is the worst thing that could likely happen, not the worst thing, but the worst likely thing.  Then comparing that the best possible thing that could happen.  In the end, we more often regret what we didn’t do than what we did and that is because the best possible thing is often magnificent.  The best example I can give is my trip to Jordan in December.  Yes, there was a small chance of being killed in a terrorist attack, however the most likely worse thing was a twisted ankle or knee.  However the best thing was what happened, utter awe seeing the 2300 year old city of Petra and one of the most joyous moments in my life floating in the Dead Sea.

So my friends, let your fear flow through and past you.  Minimize the sources of anxiety in your life, you’ll be happier for it.  And take chances my friends, risk leads to reward.

Have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

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Appalachian Trail Happiness, the Book

Appalachian Trail Happiness, the Book

at-happPlease forgive my shameless plug tonight but I wanted to provide all of the purchasing information for my book in one place ~ Rev Kane

Come take a thousand mile walk with me on the Appalachian Trail.

When I wrote the book I had originally included a glossary, but I incorporated it in the text, a book club I recently met with said it would be helpful so here’s the glossary.

Also, I thought it would beneficial to include some photos from the book here.

What I hope you can get out of this book is a feeling for the Appalachian Trail Community: thru-hikers, hostel owners, trail towns and trail angels who all conspire to make hiking the AT an amazing experience.  I knew the community existed, but the positive impact it had on me—the power of this community—completely caught me by surprise, a really pleasant surprise.  Sure, there will be a good bit about the trail, the geography, the weather and the mountains, but it’s mostly about the people, the culture and my own twisted brain.  The book is drawn out of three things: my journal entries, descriptions and definitions of trail terms, and the writings I undertook while hiking the trail. I also answered three questions every day; what was the most beautiful thing I encountered, what did I learn, what made me happy today?

Amazon & Kindle   – You can find both the paperback ($9.99) and ebook ($2.99) at Amazon, if you buy the paperback you get the ebook as a bonus for 99 cents if you are so inclined.

Createspace  – If you order through Createspace ($9.99), Amazon doubles my royalty.  I’m assuming they do this to help drive traffic to the Createspace store.  So if you want to help maximize my royalty this is the best way.

Signed Copy – If you would like a signed copy please contact me directly at happinesskane@aol.com.  For these I have to order a copy from Createspace, then sign it and ship it to you directly, due to the double shipping I charge $15 for this option.

No matter how you buy the book, I’m thankful that you have and thank you very much for supporting my work and I hope you enjoy it. A quick synopsis is below. ~ Rev Kane

Please check out my blog the Ministry of Happiness

Find us on our Facebook Pages, Appalachian Trail Happiness or The Ministry of Happiness

Checkout my photos on Instagram at @reverendmichaelkane

Find us on Twitter at @ministryofhappy

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Hiker Slang

Hiker Slang

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect ~ Anais Nin

At a book club recently for my book, Appalachian Trial Happiness, the readers said they wish there had been a glossary.  I had originally had set one up in the book but in the editing process opted to incorporate the terms and definitions.  So here it is as a companion to the book, and hikers please, add terms to the comments that I’ve left out and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Approach Trail – The Approach Trail is best skipped in my opinion but many people will take the long stair filled stroll up through Amicalola Falls State Park.  Many people refer to it as the hardest seven miles on the trail.  That’s absolutely psychological, you’re nervous, you’re likely carrying too much weight and without a doubt it’s a hell of a climb.

Aqua Blazing, (Pink, Yellow and Brown Blazing, etc…) – there are a huge array of color related slang to describe the way someone is approaching their hike.  I’m sticking to some of the most frequent ones here. Yellow blazing, usually said with derision, refers to hikers who hitch a ride up the trail and skip parts of the trail.  It’s always interesting to know you’re several days ahead of someone on the trail and then catch up to them again, but in my opinion, hike your own hike.  Pink blazing is an interesting phenomenon, sometimes two people meet on the trail, fall madly in love and become inseparable hiking partners, they are said to be pink blazing.  I’ve also heard it used for a hiker who has changed pace to stick with someone they are crushing on.  Brown blazing is usually linked to an outbreak of Norovirus or other stomach malady and refers to someone who is having to frequently get off trail to use the privy or cat holes due to their ailment.  Finally, Aqua blazing refers to traveling through part of the trail by canoeing, kayaking or rafting down a river and rejoining the trail at the end of the run.  This most often occurs in Virginia but there are several places near the trail where this can be accomplished.

Blue Blaze – A Blue Blaze marks a parallel trail related to the AT.  At times they mark the trails to the shelters or water sources but blue blazes have a very different meaning on the trail.  You see some of the blue blaze trails are trails that are set up to skip around some of the gnarlier parts of the trail.  As such, “blue blazing” ends up being a derogatory term in the hiking community really suggesting that this person is not as much of a hiker as those who only follow white blazes.  The attitude is at complete contrast with the professed philosophy of hike your own hike.  As I read once, can’t remember where, an older hiker, defending his “blue blazing” basically admitted without doing that he’d never make Maine.  I’m a firm believer in the hike your own hike mentality, likely due to my focus on the journey instead of the destination and I did a few blue blaze trails over my 1000 miles.  My first was Albert Mountain, I’m a bad descender and while nursing a bad knee, I blue blazed Albert Mountain. On the profile the descent looked particularly gnarly, honestly on the profile the damn thing looked like a finger pointing up to the sky.  Turned out, as I would hear from others, that the descent was actually not bad. However, not knowing that in advance, it was the call I made. I’ll admit there is a bit of shame in this admission and the purists will look down on me.  A reminder that the less one cares about the opinions of others, the happier you will usually be.

Brown Blazing – (See Aqua Blazing)

My longest hiking partner, Second Star

The Bubble – is a very fluid term, it generally refers to the large grouping of hikers during the most popular times on the trail.  Most spring NOBO’s start between March first and April fifteenth, so that group, due to varying pace ends up being a pulse of hikers that pass through areas of the trail and trail towns together over a three week period.  Of course this happens in reverse with SOBO’s and really a bubble can get created anytime a big group of people end up starting around the same time.  Your bubble becomes you’re extended community, familiar faces to see in towns and on the trail.  You trade news, stories and information about fellow hikers you have in common, it creates a wonderful sense of community.

Cat hole – I’ll admit it, maybe this doesn’t make me a super hiker, but I wasn’t excited about the idea of shitting in a hole in the ground.  A cat hole, is the way you should properly execute this activity, you should dig a hole at least six inches deep, deposit your contribution and toilet paper and then mix it in with a stick and refill the hole with the dirt you removed.  Sort of the way your cat is supposed to treat its litter box.  Given the number of privies on the AT, if you stay around the shelters at night you have access to a privy nearly every night on the trail.  Of course there are nights in campgrounds and stealth camping nights and the occasional privy line that is longer than the time you have to wait.  I become completely comfortable with cat holing in the woods.  My preferred technique when possible was to use a fork shaped downed tree as an improvised privy.  It’s amazing on the trail how quickly you can become ok with just plopping your bare ass down on a mossy log in the forest.

Cowboy Camping – This is old school camping, just laying out under the stars on the ground without the benefit of a tent, shelter or hammock.  People do it, a lot of ultralight folks basically do it every night.  This term always leads me to think about another one, the cowboy shower.  A cowboy shower is effectively an exercise in efficiency, you get into the shower, fully dressed and use the shower and soap to first wash your clothes, piece by piece as you remove them and then finally wash yourself.  Hardly a necessary exercise while hiking the trail but apparently happens often enough that one hostel I stayed in had a prohibition against it.  This was a fascinating hostel with a fascinating list of rules, another was no shitting in the shower, I sometimes really worry about my fellow humans.

Default World/Life – The default world is the world off the trail, the world you belong to in your normal life.  In my opinion, it is the overly scripted world of expectations where you are forced to wear too many masks day to day.  It is in direct opposition to the trail where you can be who you truly feel you are inside, all the time.

Double Blaze – I include this particular definition because of the utter confusion it caused me on the trail.  I asked several other hikers, and then tried to devise the answer for myself by assessing what was happening whenever I saw them.  For a long time, after another hiker told me this, I believed that double blazes signified that we were crossing another trail or road.  The reality is, double blazes signify a sharp turn in the trail, at least that’s the official line.  Because I’ll tell you my friends, I’ve seen trails double blazed with the tiniest of direction changes and have been on hair pin changes on the trail that were not double blazed.  All part of the fun and adventures you have walking up the East Coast of America in the woods.

Flip/Flopping and NOBO/SOBO – refer simply to direction while hiking or thru-hiking.  NOBO is a north bound hiker, SOBO is walking south and a Flip/Flop is when you start somewhere in the middle, go North or South to the end and then flip back to where you started and go the other way.  There is lots of discussion over which way is best, all of it is irrelevant, what’s best is what works for you.  I advocate doing a NOBO hike in the spring if you are attempting a thru-hike.  You get the benefit of a much larger community doing it that way, sure, it’s also a bit crowded at the beginning, but the herd thins out mightily before you hit the half-way point.  When I was hiking south in the summer and encountering NOBO’s I’d hiked with early on, they were often a bit desperate to see other hikers if they were on their own.  It really showed me the absolute importance of community on the trail.  I believe, I don’t know for sure, but basic math seems to show that having that level of community is much more difficult for SOBO thru-hikers to find.

Grasshopper rain – No, grasshopper rain is not grasshoppers falling out of the sky.  But in the spring as you’re walking sometimes you hear the sound of water sprinkling down on the leaves.  It sounds just like rain and because you know it isn’t, you freak out a bit thinking it’s a snake or some other critter.  I heard this sound nearly a dozen times before I finally figured out what it was.  Coming down off of Max Patch at the edge of the field I heard the rain sound, but because of the open nature of the ground, I finally saw what was causing it, grasshoppers.  Hordes of little baby grasshoppers who apparently hatched out together in the spring and as you walk up on them they hop away in a tiny wave.  They are small and well camouflaged, so they are hard to see, but you can hear them hopping across the dried leaves, each little hop like a drop of rain landing on the leaves.

Hike your own hike – this is the most common phrase you will hear hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  What it means is that every person has to do the hike in their own way.  Some people will carry 15 pounds of ultralight gear, hike 20 miles a day and never touch a blue blaze.  Some will carry 72 pounds, hike at night and hike 8 miles a day.  Some people spend a lot of money on nice hotels and expensive meals in town, some sleep in hostels or 6 people in a cheap motel room and eat at Taco Bell.  Some people are on the trail to prove something to others, most to prove something to themselves, some are walking off tragedy and war, and some are trying to change their lives.  None of it matters, everyone is walking the same trail, over the same mountains and everyone has to do it their own way and that’s what the phrase means.  Everyone has to hike their own hike in their own way and it’s ok.  The trail isn’t Utopia, there are flawed humans involved, so sometimes people don’t reflect this attitude, but honestly the majority of hikers I met believed in the idea of hike your own hike.

Hiker Midnight – I’m not a morning person, but that becomes irrelevant on the trail.  Much like folks in the past, on the trail you really end up being a sun up to sundown person whether you want to or not.  First, especially in the spring, daylight hours are still short and you’re not up to your prime hiking speed yet.  So miles are hard to come by and you need most of the daylight to get the miles you’d like to get each day.  Yes, in the beginning that was only eight to ten miles a day, but that often took eight to ten hours to accomplish with breaks for lunch, rest, etc… It would not be uncommon to leave camp around eight in the morning and arrive at your final campsite at four.  The sun goes down early that time of year and even earlier when you’re in a bowl between mountains on the AT.  It would not be unusual in March to lose the sun at a particular site before four in the afternoon.  There’s only so much you can really do in the dark, sure a nice fire at the shelter and some conversation is fun but people are planning to be up by five or six in the morning.  So you end up retiring to your tent/hammock usually by six or seven at night.  Thus the term “hiker midnight”, people disagree on the time, but it is typically eight or nine at night, by this time a hiker camp seems like a town at midnight, almost no one moving about and little noise but the snoring of others, animal calls and the dropping of acorns.

Hiker Trash – in a lot of subcultures, the subculture will take a derogatory term coined by the public and co-opt it for themselves.  We are hiker trash, a term that if said in town by non-hikers is not a compliment.  But it has become a term of endearment between hikers, we are proud to be hiker trash.

Mau and Rev Kane

Hiking the Appalachian Trail – This one is not really trail jargon but something that does come up in conversation.  In 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford slipped off to South America for a little tryst with his mistress.  During his absence one of the explanations for his disappearance by a staff member was that he was out hiking the Appalachian Trail.   So from time to time when you tell someone you’re about to go hike the trail you’ll get a snicker and a question, “what’s her name?”

Nearos & Zeros – We all go into town, especially after a long swing of four or five days on the trail, not much in life beats a huge meal, a hot shower and an actual bed after you’ve been on the trail for awhile.  A nearo is a day where you do nearly zero miles, a little deceptive because it usually means hiking several miles into town and crashing for the night.  Of course you’re resupplying and don’t have a vehicle so you end up walking another couple of miles in town to get supplies, eat, etc… A zero is when you actually spend two nights in town and that second day do very little but rest.  Of course the same issue persists and often when you plan a zero you crash out the night before and spend the zero day walking all over town to do mail, get supplies and to eat, but at least you’re in camp shoes and not carrying much weight on your back.

Pink Blazing – (See Aqua Blazing)

Ponies (Ponieeeeeessss!!!) – the Grayson Highlands are a highlight for a lot of hikers as there are herds of wild ponies that live on that section of the trail.  I will admit, they are pretty cool, except for the horse shit everywhere.  I went through nearly the entire highlands before I saw my first pony.  I came over a small rock climb in the fog and as I hit the trail on the other side of the rocks, I realized I had a pony standing five feet away staring at me.  There was an entire herd right there with me in the fog, as I went for my camera in my pack one decided I must be digging out food and came and shoved his nose in my chest.  It was cool and a little disconcerting.  However the thing that really caught my attention about the ponies was the reaction of most female hikers.  Apparently that cliché little girl dream of owning a pony is strong in the hiker community.  Female hikers, women I would never have expected this from, would squeal in delight at the thought and the sight of ponieeeeeessss!!!  My friend Second Star, chief among them.

Privy – A privy is basically an outhouse, most of them operate off of basic composting principles and are kept up by local volunteers.  That’s right, that’s how amazing some people are, they actually volunteer to take care of outhouses so other people can have a comfortable place to relieve themselves.  Privies on the AT range from the utterly disgusting to some much nicer than you can possible imagine.  In part of Pennsylvannia the shelter keepers do an amazing job, not just keeping them clean but making the attractive.  Fake light switches, hand sanitizer, one even provided toilet paper, basically something unheard of on the trail.

Some are really well constructed, comfortable and in amazing locations, some were obviously built for pygmies in Africa and transported to the AT.  A couple of times they were so small I couldn’t close the door, one was so short on the sides that when you stood up after concluding your business you could say hi to the two female elementary school teachers who set their tent up near the privy.  I’m not complaining, both of those privies were better than squatting on a log.

Some of the privies were actually quite nice, particularly because of the view.  There were a few mornings sitting on the privy and watching the sun coming up was a damn pleasurable experience.  I’ve heard tell, didn’t see it myself, that some are made for making friends.  It is rumored that one privy in Maine is a double seater with a cribbage board between the seats.

Privy etiquette takes a bit of getting used to, each seems to have its own set of rules.  The one at Standing Bear Farm has a little sign you flip down.  The privy is great and even has a Plexiglas window on the door.  I remember that well because a female hiker missed the sign and came right up the stairs to the door, looked at me and being a nice person I of course said, “good morning.”  She blushed every time we crossed paths on the trail for the next couple of months.

Purist – A purist, and almost everyone attempting a thru-hike is a purist when they start, is someone who plans on seeing every white blaze, no blue blazing, no yellow blazing, no aqua blazing.  Taken to the extreme a purist will not miss an inch of the trail being careful to walk right back to the point on the trail where they walked off before starting again.  Very few hikers remain purists too far into a thru-hike attempt.  I compare what happens on the trail to the old boxing adage, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. We all start out with grand ideas and a romanticized vision of what the trail will be like.  Most lose those idealized visions once they are slapped with cold, rain, mud, ice, snow, heat, rocks and all manner of challenges that both make hiking the AT a giant pain in the ass as well as the most magnificent challenge you’ll ever undertake.

The Rage – the rage isn’t a widely used term but the concept is something we all experience on the trail.  At some point, I was never really sure what triggered it, I would hike days and nothing would happen and then I’d be out for two days and it would hit.  What is it?  The rage, that crazy insatiable hunger that suddenly overtakes you on the trail.  Given that you are burning four to six thousand calories a day and most days eating two to three thousand at best, you are always in a calorie deficit on the trail.  At some point your body has to recoup those calories, usually those are called town days.  In town I’ve seen some impressive feats of eating, my buddy Shaggy crushed an eighteen ounce hiker burger in Hot Springs, my friend Awesome crushed five Big Mac, fries and a two-liter coke on a town day.  Full pizzas per person, followed by desert and a milkshake was not uncommon. When the rage hits on the trail you turn into a bottomless pit, an eating machine.  In the Shenandoah National Park when the rage hit I ate over ten thousand calories in thirty-six hours, much to the horror of a section hiker who had recently started hiking with us.  The only reason I didn’t eat more that day was that I needed to leave some food for the next day or I’d be out of food, I was still very hungry when I went to bed.

Ridge Runner – I met about a half a dozen ridge runners on my hike.  For the most part they were really cool and helpful folks.  They are people who are usually being paid to hike along the trail, help out hikers and report any issues to the appropriate folks regarding wildlife, trail maintenance etc… They also in some areas have responsibility for enforcing shelter stay rules.

Safety Meeting – I was introduced to the concept of the safety meeting in the summer of 2004 at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert.  One of my campmates was walking around one morning letting folks know there would be a safety meeting in ten minutes behind his trailer.  Now, we had a pretty organized camp but a safety meeting, really, what were we, affiliated with OSHA?  One of my other campmates saw the confusion on my face, laughed and asked me if I smoked pot.  Didn’t take me too long after that to connect the dots, especially when she returned a little while later relaxed and glassy eyed.

Section Hiker – as opposed to doing a thru-hike, section hikers are folks who are doing the full Appalachian Trail, one section at a time.  A section can be, 40 miles or in the case of LASHERS and BASHERS (Long-ASS, or Big-Ass Section Hikers) people doing hundreds of miles in a single swipe.  These folks have my absolute admiration, taking years and sometimes decades to complete the entire trail shows a level of dedication I have a hard time imagining.  In talking with them, they confirmed my initial thoughts, that usually about the time they got fully into hiking shape it’s time to go home.

Slack Packing – This is probably the one term I get asked about the most when I use it around non-hikers.  Slack packing is very simply hiking with a day pack instead of your full pack.  This can happen in a variety of ways but typically you’ll pay a hostel owner to drive you up the road some set of miles and then hike back to the hostel with only a day pack on, either with your own pack nearly empty or sometime hostels have day packs that you can borrow.  It’s a nice break from carrying a full pack and you can move really fast and cover a lot of miles on those days.  The next day the hostel owner drops you off at the same point and you continue on up the trail from that point.  I did a lot of slack packing due to my injury, I slack packed back to Mountain Harbour B&B the day after I first hurt my knee.  A side note, Mountain Harbour B&B has the most incredibly breakfast buffet you will ever sample.  I also did a lot of slack packing while rehabbing my knees in NY with my family.  I slacked all of Massachusetts during that time. But by far my luckiest bit of slack packing was due to my friend Backtrack who returned to the trail with an RV for the sole reason of slackpacking some of his fellow hikers.

Thru-hike – A thru-hike is most easily defined as walking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one relatively continuous time period.  Of course, as with anything it gets more complicated than that.  To get your certificate of completion from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), you are supposed to have walked the entire length of the trail (except in cases of extreme danger, weather, fire, etc…).  The ATC doesn’t care how long this took and once you’ve completed it you get a 2000 miler certificate.  Within the hiking community you will hear all manner of twists and variation on this idea.  Some will tell you as long as you’ve done 2000 miles and gone end to end that’s good enough.  Others will tell you for a “thru-hike” it has to be completed in 12 months.  I’m sure there are variations I’m not aware of and honestly I never cared.  If you walk this trail from end to end, in any order, over any amount of time you’re amazing.  Personally I think the continuous time piece needs to be there to be consider a thru-hiker, but it’s a semantic game and my thought has always been let people call themselves whatever they want, your accomplishments are your own, hike your own hike.

Trail Angels and Trail Magic – I often talk about trail community, that community extends well beyond the folks who are actually on the trail hiking.  The towns along the trail, the hostel owners, the outfitters and of course the Trail Angels.  Trail Angels are folks who help hikers by providing trail magic.  I was more cynical of humanity when I went out on the trail than I am now.  I have the kindness of trail angels to thank for that change in me.  Trail angels offer trail magic in the form of free rides, free food, and in some instances even free places to stay or any other small kindness that a hiker needs.  They are truly angels, there isn’t a much better feeling than turning a corner on a hot day and seeing a cooler sitting next to the trail, opening the lid and finding cold drinks and snacks.

Trail Candy/Vitamin I – Ibuprofen, a hiker’s best friend, I almost shouldn’t admit how much trail candy I gobbled down on the trail, particularly after my knee injury.  But trail candy is a necessary evil when you’re beating on your body for hours and hours every day, day after day walking over mountains with weight on your back for months at a time.  I became particularly fond of the various ibuprofen PM mixtures that give you a little spike of anti-histamine to get you just drowsy enough to slip into sleep at night.

Trail Name – One of the first things anyone talks about with AT hikers is your trail name?  Sometimes people come to the trail with a trail name, this was the case with me.  Although given my resemblance to him, I really wanted to go with Yukon Cornelius but instead went with Reverend Kane, which became Rev Kane on the trail.  I did this for reasons of continuity with my work with the Ministry of Happiness.  A lot of people get their trail name on the trail due to things that happen on the trail.  There are a lot of people named backtrack for obvious reasons, fall down a hill and land in a burst of dirt and dust and voila, you look like Pig Pen from the Peanuts.  Sometimes you get renamed mid-hike whether you want to or not.  I met a hiker in the Shenandoah National Park, who kept getting caught in the vortex of places with comfortable seating and inexpensive, cold beer.  I renamed him Vortex  but the name didn’t stick.  Trail names are important though as it allows both the ability to communicate and be located on the trail but also allows you to remain relatively anonymous and separated from your life back in the default world.

Triple Crowner – These are the kings and queens of the hiking world.  The Triple Crown is thru-hiking the Appalachian (AT), Pacific Crest (PCT) and Continental Divide (CDT) Trails in the United States.  The AT is roughly 2190 miles, the PCT is roughly 2660 and the CDT is roughly 3100 miles long, so that’s 7950 miles to have hiked all three.  That of course doesn’t include the extra miles to camp sites, resupplies, interesting diversions and training hikes.  I’ve met a few triple crowners, they have a tendency to be very modest about the achievement and they are truly the hiking elite, and hell to keep up with on the trail as well.

Vortex – A vortex on the trail is someplace that has the tendency to suck hikers in and delay, and in some case permanently grab a hiker and keep him/her off of the trail.  There are a number of towns on the trail that have a reputation for this, Hot Springs, NC and Damascus, VA among some of the early ones.  In the Shenandoah National Park the waysides in the park, full of hot food, cold drinks and comfortable seating can have this effect.  However, I’ve met folks at hostels who walked in one year and didn’t leave for five years, folks who do work for stay and remain in place for a few days, a week or a season.  The lure of comfort and trail community off the trail can be dangerous combinations to thru-hiking ambitions.

White Blaze – The simplest definition is the mark that is used to indicate the path of the Appalachian Trail.  But White Blazes become so much more than that, they come to symbolize the freedom and dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.  They guide our way and become a symbol of trail life.  The amazing thing to me is how the search image for White Blazes becomes such a priority in your brain even after being on the trail for a time.  I’ve spotted blazes on the sides of roads that I have driven my whole life and never realized crossed the trail.  White Blazes also become comfort during those times on the trail when you suddenly think your lost, one little white rectangle and you’re relieved and happy again.

Widow maker – A widow maker is a broken or dead branch or a dead tree that has the potential to come down and injure or kill a hiker.  Heading out on my thru-hike attempt widow makers and lightning strikes were my two biggest fears.  This is a very real risk on the trail, in May of 2015 a hiker was killed by a falling tree in a Maryland campground.  I took this risk very seriously, there were nights that I noticed a widow maker after setting up my hammock and had to take down and redo my entire set up.  Early in the trip, in the first campground in the Smoky Mountain National Park, during a particularly violent thunderstorm, I hear a sound I couldn’t identify between the sounds of the rain and thunder.  When I got up in the morning I quickly saw what the noise was, a 40 foot tree had been uprooted and fallen right in the middle of the campground.  Amazingly, it fell in between the two bear cable set ups and away from some other campers, landing about 15 feet from my set up.  Between the storm and aggressive bear warnings signs, that was one of the more sleepless nights on the trail.  The campground would later be closed due to the aggressive bear situation.

Wind Rain – Rain sucks on the trail, you get used to it, it’s a welcome break in the hot months but getting wet sucks.  Given that most of us are wearing trail runners and not waterproof boots our feet get really wet and I really hate wet socks.  This, I knew well before I started my thru-hike attempt but on my hike a coined a new term for a particular condition.  Imagine, you slept through a rainy night, you’re excited in the morning because the rain has stopped.  Great, I won’t need rain gear today and it’s cooled off, a great morning for a hike.  As you’re walking a wind gust comes up and bam, you’re wet.  Now you’re not soaked but wind rain is the water that is on the leaves of trees after a storm that gets brought down in wind gusts.  No matter how well you know this, it always catches you by surprise, nothing like ice cold drops of water dropping down the back of your neck on a chilly AT morning.

Yellow Blazing – (See Aqua Blazing)

Yogi-ing – Is a particular skill that most hikers develop on the trail.  It’s the ability to be both utterly fascinating and utterly pathetic to the general public.  You’re hope, and this really works best in state and national parks, is to spike people’s fascination with what you’re doing and engender enough sympathy that they pass on a little food, drink or a ride in return for your stories.  The concept comes from the old Yogi the Bear cartoons, Yogi was always in search of a lovely picnic basket purloined from the tourists in Jellystone National Park

Zeros and Nearos – (See Nearos)

Rev Kane on his arrival at Amicalola Falls State Park

Some Other Adventure Posts You Might Enjoy!

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Reader’s Favorite Posts

Quitting the Appalachian Trail

My Favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

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Happiness is a Book Club

Happiness is a Book Club

There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.          ~ Rev Kane

So, several months before I had published my book, Appalachian Trail Happiness, I got a note from a friend of a friend.  She posted on Facebook to my friend that they should read my book for their book club, and have me come speak.  I was both surprised and flattered, I mean heck, the book wasn’t even done yet!

Well, this past week I did in fact drive down to LA and join my friend’s book club for the evening.  The whole day was great.  I went down to Hermosa Beach in the afternoon and hung out with a friend and his kids.  Had some Shel Silverstein verses thrown my way and had a couple of hours to catch up with my friend.

It was a gorgeous day and the drive up to Palos Verdes where my friend lives was lovely.

I’ve done a couple of presentations about my book, but this was my first book club.  I have to confess to being a bit nervous about the whole thing.  The idea of having folks right in your face who may not have liked the book was not a comforting feeling.  I’m happy to say that they seemed very happy with the book, I even sold a couple of extra copies.

They also gave me a great suggestion, when I first wrote the book, the book was split into two sections, the main story and then a sort of glossary where I explained trail slang and told some stories.  Eventually, in the final edit, I took the glossary and incorporated the stories and terms into the main part of the book.  What the book club members told me was that the glossary would have been helpful either way.  So I will be sharing that out on a post later tonight.

So I guess I’m an author, it’s funny to say that, but I have a book that’s out and published, that people are buying.  I’m not making a lot of money off of the book, but I’m actually proud of 79,000+ ranking on Amazon’s author list.  But I’m happy, it’s a start, the most significant step so far to becoming what I want to be, a full-time writer and speaker.  So thank you very much to the book club members and in particular my high school friend Suanne who hosted, for helping add one more piece to that puzzle I’m working on.

Have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Some Other Adventure Posts You Might Enjoy!

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Reader’s Favorite Posts

Quitting the Appalachian Trail

My Favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

 

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Two Days in Paradise

Two Days in Paradise


The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also. ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

It was time for an adventure and the one I had set my sights upon was Havasu Falls on reservation land just outside the boundaries of the Grand Canyon.  I first discovered this place on an online post, one of those bucket list places post.  The comments people made about it were that it was one of the most beautiful places they’d ever been.  I will say that I agree with that statement.  I’ve been all over the world and the falls and rivers at Havasu are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  I’ll be following up tonight’s post over this week with some posts containing a lot more photos, including one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken.  It took me three weeks from when the permit phone lines opened, calling multiple times per day, in order to get the reservations but the effort was well worth it.

The trip started at the Hualapai Lodge about 70 miles from the Hilltop trailhead.  I drove out of the lodge at 4:30 in the morning.  I’d read lots of comments about horses and cows on the road and that it was really advisable to take the road more slowly than you could.  I did see some cows, happily off the road.  However, the road should be named suicide rabbit run.  There were no less than five jack rabbits that attempted suicide by car as I drove.  I’m happy to say none were successful and that I saw one of the weirdest things I’ve ever encountered on that road, a bat.  A bat that was sitting on the road and leapt up into flight as my car approached.  Otherwise the road was uneventful and I eventually had to pull over to shoot an amazing sunrise.

I hit the trailhead and checked in, I didn’t realize you needed to check in there but the very nice lady smiled and mentioned the potential for weather and recent mountain lion sightings as a reason for the dual check in.  So good luck with the flash floods and predators!  I’d realized the night before I’d forgotten my rain gear and I was eyeing the clouds.  I was happy they were there to keep the sun off me but they really looked like they were dissipating.  The hike in and out of Havasu Falls is a 10 mile run each way.  On the way in it’s a 2400 foot descent, a good thousand foot or so drop in the first mile and a half, and then an easy downhill run the rest of the way.  So of course, uphill all the way out, with a really good climb at the end.  Essentially a helluva quad workout on the way in and a glute fest on the way out.

Eight miles in you hit the Supai village where you happily find a store, a cafe and the tourist office where you need to check in.  The village is a fairly typical remote reservation village.  So unfortunately a good deal of poverty and trash and lots of roaming, begging dogs.  The tribe members involved in the tourist trade are quite friendly, but the rest of the tribe members are a bit aloof.  This isn’t surprising, I mean can you imagine having thousands of people coming to camp in your backyard all year-long, many who unfortunately are not as respectful of the sacredness or majesty of the place.  It has to at some level be a tough existence and I’m grateful that the tribe keeps the area open to the public.  I’m not sure I’d be so generous in their shoes.

As anyone who has hiked with me knows, I’m great on complicated trails but often, I mean really far too often, get lost on the easiest of trails.  So yes, I got lost leaving the village, I absolutely saw the sign to the campground, got distracted and went the wrong way.  I crossed over a lovely little bridge and ran into an old man from the tribe.  I asked, “which way to the campground?” He stared at me blankly, “this way to the campground I pointed?”  Finally after looking at me with a look that said, “what the hell are you doing here?” He said, “yeah, down that way.”  I got similar looks from people in the yards of the houses I past and finally pulled out my map and realized my error.  I saw that there was a loop trail that crossed back to the campground and made my way back to the right trail.

A short time after crossing the river again I got my first glimpse of the pools above Navajo Falls and was absolutely stunned.  Then I tripped and the buckle on my pack’s strap exploded.  So it was MacGyver time and after getting my pack rigged up I moved on down the trail which followed along the river to Havasu Falls.

Pools above Navajo Falls

I made my way down to the campground and as you come down the hill you look to the right and get the view in the first picture.  The falls are magnificent and in a good rain year are flowing really well.  I made my way down into the campground and saw the first thing I wish I had known.  Nowhere in my reading did anyone mention that there is a little frybread hut in the campground, which meant I would have carried less food.  But I walked around and found a great site for my hammock and strung up.  Shortly thereafter a storm came in, I was happy to be in camp given I’d forgotten my rain gear.  So I resolved to take a little nap in the hammock and wait through the storm, just one thing.  I had tied off to a slightly thin tree and it swayed a bit in the wind.  Of course when you’re in a hammock if your tie off tree moves your hammock moves up or down.  Unfortunately, the wind was blowing the tree toward my hammock, so during gusts my hammock would crash to the ground.  So, in the middle of forty mile an hour winds I had to re-tie my hammock to another tree, no picnic whatsoever.  But I got it tied off after a time and had to do some additional rigging, but after a time I got things set up well.  The storm wrapped up and I was able to get some good shots of the falls.

Over the next two days I led a pretty idyllic existence, hike a little, take some photos, meet some people, eat, take a nap, repeat.  My neighbor in camp was a pretty fascinating guy, part of the year he works at Havasu running groups for BG Wild.  He spends the rest of the year in the bush in Namibia as a missionary.  Their camp set up also had these amazing inflatable couches that were just too comfortable to pass up.

I’d meet lots of really cool people, as you almost always do backpacking.  I met a couple of young women doing their first hike ever, some PCT hiker trash and a group of women from Marin County.  One of them was absolutely beautiful and stole my heart for the weekend.  She reminded me of a younger, prettier version of the actress Molly Parker and was a total sweetheart.

The beauty of a trip like this is a really amazing thing.  You’re doing some strenuous hiking, you’re camping and staying for a couple of days in an absolute paradise.  I slept better over those two nights than I have in months.  Something amazing about being out in nature in a hammock.  This is the real life, being out there on the trail, camping and exploring.  There are few other places I feel as happy, restful and peaceful as I do on the trial.  I hope you find something similar in your life that does this for you my friends.  Have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

Some Other Adventure Posts You Might Enjoy!

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Reader’s Favorite Posts

Quitting the Appalachian Trail

My Favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

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Happiness is a Little Adventure

Happiness is a Little Adventure

Rev Kane in the Antelope Poppy Reserve

 We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. ~ Jawaharial Nehru

I have talked about it many times on this blog and in my book, Appalachian Trail Happiness.  I firmly believe that happiness comes through change and the best way to create change is through travel and adventure.  Now I have written many times before about some of my bigger adventures, Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Photographing Polar Bears in Canada, Hiking to Base Camp on Mt. Everest or traveling to Petra in Jordan.  I understand that those types of large-scale adventures are not always possible for any of us.  But I don’t believe that you need to do a large-scale adventure to make change, that a small adventure is enough.

Mt. Unaka on the Appalachian Trail

As I’ve written about in the last few weeks I’ve been a bit out of sorts.  I’ve felt like I haven’t been making progress toward my larger goals.  I have been, there was plenty of evidence to show me that but sometimes, regardless of evidence to the contrary, you just feel stuck.  A lot of it has to do with my lack of patience, something I still need to work on.  Although I have a bigger adventure coming up in a couple of weeks, I needed something.

Mojave Desert in full bloom

So with the desert in full bloom I decided to take a dawn trip to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, CA.  After an early breakfast I got to the reserve around 7AM.  I was happy to get in early on a Friday morning, by time I left four hours later there were cars lined up all the way to the entrance and the parking lots were quickly filling.  There are about eight miles of trails in the reserve and I think I covered all of them, unfortunately without my knee brace on.  But a little knee pain was absolutely worth it for the magnificent beauty that I experienced in the reserve.  I’ve posted some photos and a couple of videos on my Instagram feed at @reverendmichaelkane.  And for your viewing pleasure here are some of the photos I took, including a biplane that came flying over as I was leaving the reserve.

Have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

 

 

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Happiness can be a Rollercoaster

Happiness can be a Roller Coaster

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. ~ Frederick Keonig

Ahh the best laid plans.  So this weekend was supposed to be two full-pack day hikes, replicating my hike in a couple of weeks to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.  Happily, the first day went really well, even under full pack my pace was really good.  It was a beautiful sunny day.

I did still manage to find a little snow, it was about a half mile and a couple of hundred feet higher than it had been two weeks ago.

Of course off in the distance there was still snow above 5500 feet.

Coming off of the mountain I even ran into a couple of hikers who had done Havasu Falls and we had a really nice conversation about shared hikes and interests.

I headed back into town and ate a really great meal, or so I thought.  Whether it was the leftover chili or the gumbo I’d just made something wasn’t right.  That’s right, I poisoned myself.  It came on hard and fast, my pulse rate went up, my blood pressure spiked and the next thing I know I was getting violently ill.  It only lasted for about an hour but it was pretty intense and I crashed out pretty hard last night.

So, today I thought I was better off taking it easy and doing some writing.  Some people might call it a bad weekend, but that’s where the choice comes in.  I could choose to focus on the bad food and the sickness and the loss of a day of hiking.  Or I could choose to focus on a really great day of hiking, the beautiful sunny days this weekend and a chance to get some writing done.  I’m choosing to call it a good weekend, because being happy is about focusing on the positive.  I hope you had a good weekend as well, if you didn’t, maybe you should take a minute and reconsider, perhaps you can decide to adjust your focus and maybe you had a happy weekend after all my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Appalachian Trail Happiness, Where to buy the Book

My Polar Bear Adventure

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Happiness is a really good story

Happiness is a really good story

I have not ended up where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I intended to be ~ Douglas Adams

I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1994 and very soon after I met my friend Chad.  He’s a likable fellow and as such I immediately liked him.  However, what Chad would come to be in relatively short order is one of the most interesting humans I’ve ever known.  He’s a brilliant guy and the special part of his brilliance is that Chad doesn’t see things the way you or I do.  He considers angles we often miss.  It would not be unusual at all to roll into the brewpub in town and find Chad at the bar with some found object.  Not some crappy little item but some map or piece of art or something else that should utterly not have been on the street.  I always loved just talking with Chad, smart, positive and a generally happy fellow who is thoughtful and kind.  Now, 3000 miles away I miss our chats.

One day at the bar Chad said, “I wonder how far it is to walk to the ocean from here.”  It’s an interesting conversational topic and for most that’s all it would be, not for Chad.  Shortly thereafter my friend Chad and his dog Sally was in fact going to walk to the ocean.  I had not known the answer to his initial question beyond the fact that is was really, really far.  The link below, shared with his permission is my friend Chad’s travelogue of that trip.  It will take a few minutes to read, but it’s fantastic.  The story is interesting, a little suspenseful, utterly insightful about our fellow humans and will restore a bit of your faith in humanity.  Give it a read, and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

A walk to the ocean

 

Similar Posts You Might Enjoy

Remember the Sweet Things

There are Angels Among Us, A story of Kindness and Giving

Life Lessons from Granny

 

 

 

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Sometimes You Just Need a Weekend

Sometimes You Just Need a Weekend

There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither. ~ Alan Cohen

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve detailed that I’ve been struggling a bit lately.  That doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting idly by and focusing on it.  I go to work of course and then the gym and then I come home and work on my other job.  That job of course is as a combination writer, blogger, brand developer and marketer for my book, have I mentioned I have a book for sale, Appalachian Trail Happiness, it’s getting good reviews you should pick up a copy.  These many hats I possess eat up most of my days and weekends, particularly as I’m ramping up for my Havasu Falls trip and hiking more on the weekends.

So the fact is I’ve been really busy, I’ve had little to no downtime at all.  This weekend the plan was to do my first full weight hike in preparation for the trip.  I planned on getting up early Saturday morning and doing an 8 mile round trip with about 30 pounds on my back.  Then Sunday would be my standard Sunday gym workout weightlifting (legs) and 4o minutes of cardio.  But on Friday no less than 3 people asked me if I was ok, or why I was so low energy.  I wrapped up my Friday gym workout and started to think about my morning hike.  The more I thought about it, the less I was excited about it, the idea of losing an hour of sleep to the time change didn’t help either.

So, I did what I usually do and I listened to my body.  I was tired, I’ve been working hard at the gym for the last few weeks and it was time to take a break.  It wasn’t just physically time for a break, but I needed a mental break as well.  I’ve had too many things flying around in my brain, too many little things nagging at my brain.  What I’ve been describing as death by papercuts.  So Friday night I goofed off and watched a couple of movies.  Saturday I went in and did some grocery shopping including picking up a corned beef to make some corned beef and cabbage.

What I really spent Saturday and Sunday doing  was decluttering my brain.  So I addressed all of the little things that were floating around in my head.  I straightened up the house, put away the laundry, all the way down to lining up my shoes.  I went through piles of papers and boxes yet to have been unpacked since I moved in.  I separated some coins and organized them.  I cleaned up my fireplaces and stacked the last of the wood I have inside the house on the off chance that there is one last cool night before the summer heat comes in full blast.

I took some time to get my gear ready for my Havasu Falls trip.  I aired out my equipment and hung my hammock as a test hang and to remind myself how to do it, it’s been awhile.  It all went up quite well and so I decided to take a little rest in the hammock in the sun.  That’s when the set up slipped loose and I dropped to the ground.  The only thing I bruised was my ego, I’m committed to the rule of never hanging higher than I’m willing to fall.  It was a good learning experience, it reminded me of a step I’d not taken in assembling the rigging.  I also spent some time reading about the hike and the site and figuring out exactly what gear I’d need.  My new point and shoot was also delivered and I’m excited about trying it out and bringing it on the trip.

Havasu Falls

The happiness lesson for this weekend was that sometimes you just need to stop.  You need to take a break from all of the things you’re trying to accomplish to just take care of all of the little stuff. Get the slate cleaned up so that you can better focus on the important things.  Cooking is always a good exercise for getting things right.  Clearing my head was good, I realize I’m itching to make some changes.  I’ll be moving in a couple of months, there are some new opportunities on the horizons.  Life is good, rest helped, cooking helped and a few plates of really good corned beef and cabbage surely didn’t hurt.
~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Appalachian Trail Happiness, Where to buy the Book

My Polar Bear Adventure

 

 

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Yes you can, be happy!

Yes you can, be happy!

pct-3Each fresh peak ascended teaches something. ~ Sir Martin Convay

As I wrote about last week I’ve been struggling a bit lately.  I’m someone, like a lot of you, whose mood sometimes just tanks.  When I was younger this would lead to some pretty serious depression.  It was part of the impetus for the start of the Ministry of Happiness, once I’d done some research on how to be happier, I needed a way to share it with others and the blog was born.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot of techniques to help myself when this happens.  You start with the basics, you eat right, exercise, get the right amount of sleep.  For me writing also helps, unfortunately over the last couple of weeks I have been wholly uninspired on that front.  You look for any stressors and if they can be dealt with you do that.  If they can’t be dealt with, than you don’t have control over them and you have to let them go as best you can.  So over the last couple of the weeks I’ve been working on all of this and my mood still hadn’t elevated at all.

At least until yesterday.

Over the last few years writing this blog I’ve really come to believe that happiness only comes through action.  Sure, most of the time the basics will keep you level and bring you up if your mood dips.  But to get happier or to recover from the bigger dips you have to take action.  Sometimes that action relates to a specific problem in your life, but often, there isn’t a clear problem that’s effecting your mood.  Many times it’s a bunch of the small things, what I like to call death by paper cuts.  Lots of small wounds that bleed your mood, this has been what the last few weeks has felt like.

fix polar bear faceWhen I do talks about my book Appalachian Trail Happiness and my time on the Appalachian Trail I relate a very specific message from the wrap up section of the book.  That message is Yes you can!  Specifically what that message means is yes you can take action.  Yes you can go on adventures.  The expectation isn’t that you do some of the things I do, although you can!  You don’t have to go to Nepal and hike in the Himalayas, or travel to Canada and photograph Polar Bears or hike the Appalachian Trial.  What you can do, is do something.  You can go for a walk on a local park trail, want to ramp it up, go at night!  I assure you there are lots of hikes, art galleries and a whole list of adventures within an hour of your house, all you have to do is look for them.

unaka-enhancedAs a hiker, and someone gearing up to backpack Havasu Falls in four weeks, I decided this weekend to go for a hike.  The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Walker Pass about 20 miles from my house and so this Saturday I decided to go out and do a few hours on the trail.  Heading north out of the pass is a good walk, it’s basically an uphill run with a solid elevation gain of about a thousand feet over 3-4 miles.  So a nice three-hour out and back hike gives you an eight mile hike up over 5000 feet.  Nice training for the 10 miles I’ll do into and out of Havasu Falls.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

One of the things that I’ve been experiencing lately is feeling completely scattered, like I’m moving in a million directions at once.  Hiking is a beautiful cure for that situation, at least while you’re on the trail.  Hiking brings focus and mindfulness when you’re on the trail.  You have to be in the moment or you find yourself face down on the ground.  And although you’re focused on your steps, it allows just enough to space for your brain to go deep on one thing at a time.  Hiking let’s me take some deep dives, get some perspective and see things in ways I don’t in everyday life.   It helps me declutter my brain, throw away some of the things I shouldn’t be worrying about and put my focus in the right place.  That’s what Saturday did for me, it was a beautiful sunny day, windy and a little chilly but once I was climbing it felt good.  I ran into a family hiking, I always love seeing munchkin hikers on the trail.  One little girl was particularly adorable with her Dora the Explorer backpack and tiny trekking poles.

I took a little break to eat up on one of the saddles I crossed and ate looking over a couple of valleys with snow in the upper elevations.  On the trail, even for a day the world gets calm and simpler and I can’t help but feel good.  The beauty of this feeling is that it extends past the time on the trail.  I head into a new workweek in a better place than I’ve been over the last couple of weeks and my training plan includes being back in the mountains this weekend and each of the weekends leading up to my trip in April.

walker-pass-valley

Shots from Walker Pass this weekend on the PCT

pct-cool-cloud pct-lichen-rock pct-snow-trail So if you’re in the same place my friends, yes, you can do the same thing I did.  Maybe not in the same way, but a little adventure, a little nature and hopefully you’ll have a happier day. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Appalachian Trail Happiness, Where to buy the Book

My Polar Bear Adventure

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