I already shared some thoughts as to why I am attempting a through hike of the AT. That was focused on what made me decide to try it. This is focused on how I’d like to “be” while I am on the trail. The trail has blessed me with many things already and I haven’t even started yet and this way of thinking is one of them.

A past version of me might have written this post about “goals”. I am not that version so this is not that post. As I think about goals they define something relatively tangible I am seeking. The problem with (only) having goals is that if I don’t reach them it’s easy for me (and others) to think I have failed.

Intentions, on the other hand, are more “ways of being”. Ways of paying attention. And unlike goals, which can be influenced by all sorts of things out of my control, intentions are totally within my control. Also unlike goals, if I am able to hold these intentions at least 51% of the time, I can consider it a success.

In no particular order here are the intentions I plan to hold as I walk in the woods along the east coast starting in just a few weeks:

  • I will be open to the kindness of strangers and ask for help when it’s available and I need it. I will offer kindness to strangers and offer help when they need it.
  • I will “hike my own hike” = not worry about others passing me or me going ahead of people. I will carry what I need and leave behind what I don’t and not worry about what others are carrying / not carrying with them.
  • I will listen to my body. I know I am starting this hike in less than peak physical condition. I will not get ahead of myself and take rest when I need it. I will also notice when I am feeling good and maybe take some extra miles beyond the days plan if they are coming easy.
  • I will be present and not dwell too much on what happened yesterday or was might come tomorrow. There’s a certain amount of “tomorrow” focus that will be unavoidable of course: I will need to be figuring out how far to go, when to resupply, watching the weather to make plans if its going to be especially sketchy. But I intend to keep this to the minimum necessary. Each place I will be along the trail likely corresponds to the uniqueness of the moment – never that place nor that time will I inhabit ever again, so I need to take it all in and not let it pass by unnoticed. Being present also includes noticing how my interiority might be changing as I go – what else I notice about myself.
  • I will avoid seeking some big epiphany as I hike. Yes, I expect the hike to give me plenty of time to think and hopefully even more time to just be, but I am not going to chase after some big “a ha”.
  • I am not going to be in a hurry. I have 6.5 months if I need it. Yes, I’d like to get done in about 5.5. There are a few things I’d like to do before my leave is over (see a few shows, go to the beach in the skoolie, reflect a bit on what I just accomplished). But if I end up taking all 6.5 months that’s perfectly fine. The hike is the priority.

Like my “why” post, this seems one I will come back to (in mind if not on screen) a few times out on my hike. If nothing else to remind myself how to be.

EDIT: A few I forgot / only came up with by writing down the initial list:

  • I am going to stay away from “the job” and all things related to it. It will be there when I get back. Or it won’t…whatever.
  • I am going to enjoy my town stops and be mindful of “the vortex”. On my section hikes I’ve seen through hikers in the whites in early July…and in Shenandoah in mid July. The main difference between the pace of the two is getting sucked into the vortex.






3 responses to “Intentions”

  1. Mark Avatar

    Love the intentions vs goals. Totally agree that will be the path (pun intended) for a much more enjoyable 5+ months. You say intentions, and I say that will lead to all kinds of wisdom. Looking forward to hearing more.

  2. Seth Avatar

    Your approach is really refreshing. In a world that’s so fixated on getting to the destination, it’s cool to see you’re more about enjoying the ride, letting yourself take the time you need. You’re really putting the value on the experience itself, not just checking off a box when you’re done.

    1. Chris Avatar

      Thanks Seth! Part of its practical – I know I’m a “finisher” so want to give myself the space if I’m injured to not finish. But a bigger part is as you said to set myself up just to enjoy the ride!

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