Recently with all of the press about Scott Jurek’s super speedy thru hike…err…run of the AT I have been thinking a bit about the pace of adventure. There has been much debate about if speedy adventurers “see” the beauty of the environment they are racing through. You see for the average thru hiker it takes just shy of six months to hike the Appalachian Trail’s 2,200 miles, but it takes a speedy “hiker” such as Jennifer Pharr Davis a mere 46 days 11 hours and 20 minutes and Scott Jurek just 3 hours and 12 minutes less. So the question remains who sees more? Who enjoys it more or experiences it more? While this question will no doubt be debated for years, I have the answer. Yep, it’s true, I know the answer!
You see in my mind they both see it in different ways, neither better or worse than the other, merely differently. Ok lets think of the normal hiker, this person is fully immersed in the event, they have a pack that weighs on them, they battle the elements, savor the meals, repair the gear and truly learn about themselves in the process. They see the entire forest, stopping to look deep into the wilds (and themselves) to see what “it” is all about.
They smell the land, and taste the adventure and literally soak up the entire experience into one big pot of stew of adventure on a long slow simmer.
Now, take the speedy hiker, they spend less time on the trail, so it is an easy default to assume they see and experience less. But I do not think that is the case. The speedy hiker is experiencing things in a different way (notice I did not say better) the way I look at this is much like an accident. Think of the slow motion hyper aware sense during traumatic events.
Just quick snapshots of the experience, but taken together they become the complete experience.
Each one both a piece of the puzzle, but also each a complete puzzle.
A way to break up the experience into many adventures, much like a book of short stories that while reading may seem unrelated, until the end at which time they all come together and you have that A-HA moment.
This comes from what I call the flow, where you are so dialed on what is occurring, so focused that you can almost see through it. A speed hiker/runner may not see the forest or even the tree, but they will see the bark, the leaf, the rock, the bear all in exquisite detail, a detail so defined that few others will ever see it.
At the end of the day the answer to the question of whom experiences more, or sees more, or enjoys more really comes down to the individual and what shade of glasses they see the world through. The fact remains they are doing what they want to do to enjoy their experience, yes that may mean they do not see things your way, or mine, but they are finding their own flow and loving every minute no doubt.
I encourage you all, next time you are out in nature on an adventure focus on how you are enjoying your time, and make a point to see it in a new light, a new speed, a new focus, and then share these experiences with your friends and revel in the amazing difference we can all see our adventures.