There is a saying in the hiking community: “You pack your fears.”

I fear that I will not have enough water when I hike.

I fear that the springs will run dry.

I fear that my 5-inch water filter will jam up and not work.

This filter that stops 99.9999% of bacteria-

salmonella, cholera, E. coli

and 99.9999% of protozoa-

cryptosporidium, giardia

from passing through into my bottle… and my stomach.

A water filter is an essential tool on the trail.

And so-

I bring two.

One to use,

and one to calm my anxious mind.

Todd from North Carolina didn’t check his filter before leaving home.

Todd didn’t seem like an anxious guy.

He went on and on about his recent retirement from a career in software development as we squatted near the spring.

“You should do it- now,” he urged. “Retire. You have a life to live.”

I offered: “I have a job where I’ve made a plan, have a commitment, set a trajectory. I can’t retire now. I don’t want to retire now.”

Todd snickered and leaned over to fill his empty water bottle, full of clear mountain spring water. The water looked so good- clear and cold.

But Todd’s filter jammed.

he backwashed it- the remedy for jams.


he shook it.


he swore at it.

it was silent in return.

Todd was screwed.

I offered to Todd that I had an extra filter, up the hill, at my campsite.

I’d be happy to give it to him.

I had packed it for a moment such as this.

He said, “no.”


“Nah, I’ll be ok.”

“Uh, no you won’t. Giardia will give you days of puking and diarrhea.”

I insisted on giving Todd my extra filter.

He took it, with great hesitation.

Later, he approached my tent and handed me a $20.00 bill.

“It was a gift, ” I said. “I’m happy for you to have it. “

He insisted.

I shoved the $20.00 in my first aid kit.

But it was a gift. Not a transaction. A gift.

How do you receive help from others?

Published by audreycadyscanlan

mother. grandmother. wife. sister. bishop. priest. deacon. hiker. cook. writer. early to bed. up before dawn. I like to sleep in tents. anxious, persistent, frank.

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