Conversation with Chris Carter about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (From Mexico to Canada) and lessons about life, faith and endurance learned along the way.  I think you will find many universal principles that are certainly true in medicine, about drive, overcoming obstacles, focus, discipline, etc.  Enjoy!

You can’t just have this sudden burst of energy and make it to Canada.

We have to embrace the journey, embrace the patience, embrace the suffering.

Your feet are like, “bro, what are you doing to me!”  That’s when it comes to the point, if it hasn’t been a dream for a while, you’ll drop out.

It just has to boil down to, “how bad do you want it?”

If this isn’t a dream, don’t do it, it’s really hard!

The trail makes you work through pain in your life and distills that. You have to learn to take your thoughts captive.  There is a direct correlation and mental positivity and stamina and physical ability. When I would have negative thoughts, it would totally destroy my ability to produce and go over these passes.  You wake up in the morning and start thinking in circles. I thought about this yesterday, maybe I should think about this today.  You never want to think about how many miles you have to do, that will destroy you and you never want to think about negative things or people you are bitter about.  I’m not going to dwell on these things, I’m going to dwell on the beauty of creation, dwell on the blessings the Lord has given me.

Once you do something like this, it gives you the ability to dream bigger!

A big thing I learned is how to find beauty in the small things, not always these beautiful vistas. There was a 300-mile section in northern California, where we’re hiking through smoke.  How do I find beauty in this clump of mushrooms or in the moss on this tree?

How can I invest in this person who is in front of me and take joy in their story.

If I walk out the door thinking I am going to take an Ansel Adams picture, I will be inevitably frustrated.  Right?  But if I walk out the door looking for what is the smallest, simplest beautiful thing I can take a picture of – it’s virtually everywhere.  It’s impossible not to take a great picture.  When I was in the wild, the best picture would be a rain drop or a flower, and that one little thing could illustrate the scene better than the whole.  (This paragraph is David, all other thoughts are from Chris)

Sometimes you’re on a ledge and you’re so hungry that every peak looks like an ice cream cone and every rock looks like a loaf of bread.  It’s frustrating because you’re thinking “I’m in the most beautiful part of the world and all I can think about is pizza.”  It makes you feel weak, it really does.

But that’s important part of the trail, where you get the point you realize how small and how weak you are.  There is a lot of addiction on the trail that frustrated me, you hear, “I’m going to conquer this trail, I’m going to conquer this mountain.”  There is this thing, “I’m out here to take down this piece of nature.”  

I saw in my friends a shift from “I’m going to conquer this,” to “I’m going to conquer myself.” And you realize that nature is so powerful and can squash you at any instant.

I remember being in a snowstorm in the cascades and thinking, if the Lord’s hand is not on me, I could so easily walk off a cliff fall into this white oblivion.  At that point you realize, I’m not here to conquer this, I’m just here to conquer my own doubts and my own physical limits.

You don’t get the feeling of “I did it. Heck yeah!”  It’s more like a feeling of awe and humility and total wonderment of what the Lord has created. . .and the power of his create and the elements of himself.  And the realization of there is some much here than I thought.  It’s humbling.  You don’t see a lot of pop-star through hikers.  It’s more like, “I’m very small.”

I think one thing this trail has taught me is that we have these plans, these dreams for the future, God’s plan is so different often, and he takes care of us through these unknowns. I got to the point where I said, God, I don’t know how you are going to help me, I don’t know how you’re going to provide, but you’ve provided every single time in the past and I just have to assume you’re going to do that this time. . .

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