[Cdt-l] Journey to Ithaca

Josie josie1066 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 18 14:12:34 CST 2011

I posted this in my journal, but as cabin fever sets in, I thought perhaps the sentiment may be worth sharing:

On a cold Sunday, I sit, almost at the midpoint of the return to my journey on the CDT, five months behind me and seven months stretching endlessly ahead. I have plenty of time to dream and think about my return to the trail.

I have been thinking about the divide between the section hiker and a through hiker--people seem to focus on the accomplishment of hiking the distance in one season and I think perhaps they miss the point--it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and speaking of trails, isn’t that true of life itself?

Many hopeful through hikers will set out next year with great expectations and many will find for different reasons that they are unable to walk all the way to Canada. I just want to encourage you to pay attention to the journey because Canada will always be there and in the end are we not all “section” hikers? Some of us take a bit longer to go the distance, but that does not diminish the experience.

Greek poet Costantine P. Cavafy sums this up very nicely in his poem, “Ithaca”

When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy -
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.

Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don't in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn't anything else to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn't deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you'll have understood what these Ithakas mean. 

pct 2008, CDT on-going
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