Pacific Crest Trail is the Ultimate ‘Live for the Moment’ Experience
I am currently reading, ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. Many of you have probably read this bestseller by the expat German author. Tolle consistently harps on the need to rid ourselves of the ‘tyranny of the mind’, and focus instead on the glory of the present moment.
What does he mean? And what about all the misfortunes we have suffered in the past and problems we face in the future. Tolle mentions peace, love, freedom, and equilibrium as things that should lift us up above all the baggage weighing us down. This may come easy for some people, but I don’t happen to be one of them. However, on the 2,663 mile Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT)running from the Mexico-California desert all the way to Canada, I seemed to have some small breakthroughs.
In my PCT memoir, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, I recount how on many days a thru-hiker walks all day, from sunup to sundown. To make it all the way to Canada, you need to put in alot of 25 mile days. What do you think about? Well, if you’re me, your mind wanders all over the place from ‘life events’ that have happened in the past, to worries about the future. However, occasionally, when I least expected it, I really felt like I was able to get beyond these more pedestrian concerns and focus on the ‘bigger picture’. I was basking in the overwhelming feeling of openness and unbounded liberation that the PCT affords.
The wide-open vistas and vast expanses of the West just naturally evoke ineffable feelings. There were actually times when I really did feel like I was ‘at one’ with my surroundings. And what an environment, from the saline austerity of the Mojave Desert, to the ethereal majesty of the ‘High Sierra’. I am a middle-aged person of average abilities; but I got a deep immersion in a milieu the likes of which the average person rarely gets to fully experience. I can honestly say that things that bothered me in the past, just don’t anymore. Because now I have a better idea what ‘it’ is all about. Those lipstick sunsets in the deserts, the alpen glow of the peaks in the High Sierra, or the bleak ruggedness one is confronted with in the northern Cascades is something I carry with me. It is the closest I haver ever gotten to what so many people preach, but so few of us experience–living for the moment.
Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, as well as The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago. Walker, who is nearly 7-feet tall, is currently working on a book on the subject of height.