quiet. we walk in quiet most of the time. even our longer hikes are quiet. it is a time of rest for us, rest from the noise of the rest of life, the noise of worry and angst, the noise of dispute, the noise of too much bad news, the noise of chaos. we listen to the birds and our footfalls on the trail. we listen to the wind and the sound of creatures rustling in the underbrush. the quiet calms us; the quiet lifts the cellophane from the magic slate cardboard, it shakes the etch-a-sketch and takes it all back to zero, back to start, back to a rainwashed driveway waiting to be chalked all over again.
having run out of everest, k2 and annapurna footage we are watching appalachian trail and pacific crest trail and john muir trail videos these days. on our own treks locally we decide which one of these to take, listing the specific merits of each. make no mistake, these are serious treks. the AT is 2190 miles from georgia to maine. the PCT is 2653 miles from the border of mexico to the border of canada. the JMT, joining with the PCT some of the way, is 211 miles through the sierras, high elevation pass after pass. clearly, the training needed would be intense. but, as we envision this extended trekking, we are drawn to the quiet. the noise of this world has become raucous and the woods and the mountains seem to beckon with absolution, with grace, with rejuvenation.
there used to be a button on the cassette player that you could push that would quicken the pace of the tape to the end: fast forward. it would seem these trails, this quiet, like sleep, would fast forward through the dark and bring you to the light once again. these trails – this quiet – remind you that next comes.
and so, the noise of the day will cease. and you can listen to the sound of your footfall on a new day, ready to be chalked.