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My daughter is doing a through-hike of the PCT. She blogged the following:

My brilliant plan for today was a 30-mile, southbound hike on the PCT from Idyllwild back to mile 151.9 where I left the trail yesterday. I made all the arrangements (morning shuttle to the trail, leaving my excess food, etc.), and set the alarm. Everything started well. I knew snow was expected, and I was prepared. I like hiking in dry snow. The trees were so pretty over the San Jacinto mountains. There was ice in patches on the trail and a mix of snow or rain coming down depending on the trail elevation as I moved along.

Somewhere along the way, I accidentally took a mountain biking trail instead of the PCT. I turned around and got back on the trail. Then I did it again. At that point, I'd wasted too much time, so I decided to bail off the mountain. I didn't want the hotel to call out the rescue team just because I was super late getting back. I took a hunter’s road down to a residential neighborhood, used my phone to figure out where I was, and road-walked back to town.

Then my real dilemma started. What to do about the missed miles? I don’t know exactly how many I missed. The section from 151.9 to 179.4 is one that a chunk of hikers skip every year, because it's a hard chunk of trail and so easy to skip by simply leaving town on the other road. I made a good faith effort at doing it, and it's time to move up the trail. All of this was going through my head before dinner tonight. Then a friend who is 2 days south sent a text. She said lots of folks were talking about skipping the section. My gut response was something along the lines of "that's just stupid". Another friend at dinner said, "Didn't these people rearrange their entire lives to hike this trail? Why start skipping?" So... My gut reaction told me what I needed to do. Back to mile 151.9 I go tomorrow morning. Good news is that my hiking buddy Moose will also be getting back on trail tomorrow, so I'll have familiar company.

I replied:

You were tempted to skip those miles, and you had already decided to do so, because you had gotten caught up in the "there" of "getting there", rather than focusing on the step-by-step of the "getting".

But two lucky coincidences refocused your thoughts on what mattered. It's one thing to be re-routed around a section of the trail you intended to walk, such as by a fire and the forest service is shuttling all hikers to a safe re-entry point, and screwing up by losing the trail and then excusing yourself from fixing that mistake.

In investing, mistakes not admitted and corrected snowball and cause bigger problems. In life, mistakes not admitted and corrected can be gotten away with as far as others are concerned. But not as far as one's integrity. That's something no one can take away from you. But it's something you can easily destroy. You're to be congratulated for admitting you had decided to skip. You're to be congratulated even more for finally making the right decision, which means that making the next hard decision becomes easier.

That's the Zen irony. The easy path becomes the hard path, as the lies to yourself have to be continued. The path that seemed hard really isn't, because no energy is wasted on excuses, and all efforts are focused on doing what needs to be done.

You did a good thing. Congrats.
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When Life Gives You Lemons
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