Quotes from AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

Awol on the Appalachian trail
Awol on the Appalachian trail, by David Miller

Finished reading this e-book today, but because it’s borrowed through lendle.me I wanted to save the quotes I’ve highligted as a blogpost, before the book is deleted from my iPad automatically. So here are my favorite quotes from Awol on the Appalachian Trail.

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«While hiking, you experience hardship, deprivation, drudgery, and pain, and the cooking stinks. The similarities to marriage doesn’t end there. Some people love it, and many are committed to seeing it through.»

«… stay off my face, and don’t shit on my food». Making a deal with a mouse :)

«… you are at the center of your own universe. You are free to create meaning for yourself.»

«Erwin, Tennessee, has the unusual distinction of being the only town in America to have hung an elephant. That was in 1916, and the elephant had it coming.»

«Alone cruising serenely through the woods, is a situation that nurtures emotional liberation.»

«Experience is enriched by reliving it, contemplating it, and trying to describe it to another person.»

«I didn’t want to be pigeonholed, defined by my career, growing soft and specialized behind a desk.»

«The rhododendrons are blooming pink, like giant bouquets overstuffed with flowers. The path is carpeted with pink petals. Nine beatiful, dreamlike miles pass.» (Between Bland and Daleville.)

«Thoughts are the most effective weapon in the human arsenal. On the upside, it is powerful to realize that goals are reached primarily by establishing the proper state of mind. But if allowed the perspective that endeavors are propped upon nothing but a notion, we falter.»

«Anything that we consider to be an accomplishment takes effort to achieve. If it were easy, it would not be nearly as gratifying. What is hardship at the moment will add to our sense of achievement in the end.»

«It is unfortunate that the pleasure is inseperable from the pain.»

«The approval, the comforts, the commitments wound themselves around me like invisible threads.»

«Self-help books emphasize «defining priorities» and «staying focused», euphemisms for specialization and stifling spontaneity. Our vision becomes so narrow that risk is trying a new brand of cereal, and adventure is watching a new sitcom. Over timeI have elevated my opinion of nonconformity nearly to the level of and obligation. We should have a bias toward doing activities that we don’t normally do to keep loose the moorings of society.»

«It is ike walking through the room of a child who has left all his toys out, but it goes on for ten miles.»

«Humans are creatures with longer history of living in the outdoors than in living within the confines of concrete and artificial light. We have an atavistic sense of well-being when immersed in the natural world.»

«If we were paid to do this, we would have quit by now.»

«The endeavor is much more durable because we «own» it. We are here by choice, and we are going about it in the way of our own choosing.»

The radical break from routine that I made in coming on this adventure unloaded the attic of my mind. Everything that I had stored away, out of habit, I’ve taken out and reexamined.

So much has happened over the past 2,172 miles. I have come through forteen states, seen twenty-one bears, lost eight toenails, and gone through six pairs of shoes.

This is it: 146 days of unforgettable scenery, seemingly endless miles of trail, rain, pain, and friendship. It’s over.

Being away from home for long stretches cannot be a way of life. Still, it is important for parents to continue to live their own lives. We can’t sit by and say we’ve already made our decisions, done our striving, and dish out opinions on the doings of our children. Words alone lack authority, and we risk making them surrogates for the life we’d like to lead. We can better relate to the budding aspirations of our children if we follow dreams of our own.

Some moments on the trail were awe-inspiring. Many days were full of picturesque moments: the path lined with blue wildflowers, areas overrun by blooming pink rhododendron and white mountain laurel, the beckoning trail weaving through trees and boulders, the smell of the firs, exposed summits showing limitless horizons of mountains, rolling fields of hay and corn with an old barn in the backdrop. My mind is saturated with these memories.

We are in an era when the demand for our attention is exploding. TV, e-mail, and the internet had blossomed before my hike, and in the short time since I’ve finished, smart phones, Facebook, and Twitter have been added to the roster. The danger that we can confuse being busy with being entertained and being relaxed with being bored. When hiking, we don’t just leave behind the customary distractions; we have to escape from our addiction to them. It can be a challenge to form new habits and to draw from within.