A Gift of Time: What the Trail Can Teach


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You decide you want to spend several months walking, carrying only what you need on your back. Your feet are tired, your shirt is dirty, the salt from sweat is rubbing against your skin causing unidentifiable rashes, you’re hot, you’re cold, you’re scared, you’re nervous, you miss people, but you seem to want to keep walking for 12+ hours each day.

Why do we decide to torture our bodies and put ourselves in these situations? We can spend countless hours and months researching gear, food, town stops—but in the end, it’s the gift of time and the experience that we will carry with us forever in our lives. It’s not until we decide to take on a challenge and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone that we are able to learn and grow from that experience.

Our bodies are so much more capable than we think. It’s quite incredible how much we can accomplish if we set our time, energy and effort in pursuit of one great thing. I decided to attempt a thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail this past summer and completed 1,800+ miles; then I was forced off-trail due to injury. Going into this journey, I had zero expectations. I was ready for just about anything. Though I was only able to spend four months on-trail, the experience I gained was indescribable.

karen wang sits on PCT trail signs

I had no clue I was going to be changed the way I did. The greatest takeaway from the journey was that not all stories are going to end the way you want, that there are things in life that you cannot control—and that’s okay. But in the moment, are we enjoying each and every second of it? Walking on the soft dirt beneath my feet, seeing that colorful sunrise over the ridge—each day could very well have been my last on the trail and I wouldn’t even know it. In the end, I was so grateful for everything around me: the hikers, the views, the locals. I learned that it is so important to not take these things for granted, to enjoy every minute of any experience you are in, because in just a matter of seconds, everything can completely change.

Check out these holiday gift ideas for gear to get them outdoors doing what they love.

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