Walking is Experimental

Walking is experimental.

It is cliche, but when Tolkien wrote of traveling, “there’s no knowing where you might get swept off to”, he was exactly right.

Each time I plan a hiking trip, I have pages of notes: topography charts, mileage marks, food orders, gear checklists, maps, contact information, reservation confirmations, backcountry permits, etc. And despite all of this planning, a backpacking trip still eludes pre-figuration.

Because each step contains an entire world of possibility. And once one foot is set on the trail, it becomes instantly apparent that all the research and preparation only set a loose boundary in which a contingent infinity occurs.

This is exactly what makes backpacking simultaneously anxiety-producing and magnificent.


When walking, it is impossible to know whether it will be a good experience or a bad one. It is an experiment in what can happen when exposed to the fickle elements.

But it has to be an experiment without a hypothesis. If the goal is go somewhere, one might be better suited to go by vehicle. What is there to be proved by walking?

Each time I embark upon a hike, regardless of the length of it, I find out something new. If my mind is open, I can find answers to many of life’s hypotheses. Is it possible for me to spend a significant amount of time alone without going crazy? Is it possible for a person to carry 40 pounds up a 2,000 foot ascent despite being out of shape? Will I quit when the going gets tough?

Walking is an experiment that provides us with proof of all kinds of things as long as we are willing to see them.


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