I loved being on the Pacific Crest Trail.
I also really hated being on the Pacific Crest Trail – like really hated.
A popular question in town (and among hikers) was why you were on the PCT in the first place. I always came up short with an answer. My reason for hiking the trail did not arise from a love for the outdoors, a deeply seeded emotional trauma, or even a love of hiking. In fact, I hate hiking.
Hiking for the sake of hiking does not interest me in the slightest. Going on a hike “for fun” sounds about as appealing as having a cavity filled or going to a Nickelback concert. To me, hiking is a byproduct of adventuring; I love adventuring.
So why did I hike the Pacific Crest Trail? Why did I spend almost five months hiking? Doing something that I hate? Because walking from Mexico to Canada is one hell of an adventure (an adventure that just happens to require a lot of hiking).
When asked what my least favorite part of the trail was I would answer “hiking”. I was not lying.
More times that I would care to remember, I was 100% decided that I would never hike again following the PCT. Things have changed.
I am now itch for another opportunity to spend extended periods of time lost in the wilderness. It's difficult to explain why, but it's not because I want to go hiking.
If you were to ask me, “do you want to go on a hike?”, then chances are my answer will be no (unless, for some reason, I want to get you alone in the woods). However, if you were to ask me, “do you want to go see a spectacular view/canyon/waterfall/tree/mountain/volcano/etc.”, then my answer would most certainly be yes – even if hiking was required to reach said destination.
According to Merriam-Webster, an adventure is:
: an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
: the encountering of risks
: an exciting or remarkable experience
The key element here is the unknown. Excitement comes from danger, danger comes from risk, and risk comes from the unknown. Excitement equals danger equals risk equals unknown. Excitement equals unknown. That's how the transitive property works, right? Booyah.
What does any of this have to do with hiking? Nothing. I hate hiking, but I love adventuring, and adventuring is about facing and conquering the unknown.
The unknown makes life exciting. The unknown eliminates the routine that drags life through a sludge of played out predictably. The unknown means not knowing what will happen next. The unknown challenges you to overcome unforeseen obstacles, and improvise solutions to problems as they arise.
The unknown is an adventure, and I love adventures.