Synopsis: Figure it Out is about the The Hayduke Trail is an 800-mile hiking route across Utah and Arizona. I say it’s a route because most of the time there is no trail. It exists as a concept and as a line drawn on a map but most of the time there is nothing to follow on the ground except topographical features. The route goes up and down canyon walls, navigation is very tricky, and water sources are few and far between. What makes it all worth it is the incredible scenery and having it all to yourself, because there is no one else out there. It has been listed as one of the top 10 scenic hikes in the world by National Geographic and many accomplished hikers consider it to be their most challenging hike.
Figure it Out isn’t just about hiking the Hayduke Trail, it’s about the psychological benefits that wilderness provides too. Hiking long trails is about 30% physical challenge and 70% mental challenge. Out there, we realize that we are the only ones standing in our way. All other road blocks have been removed and success is entirely up to the individual. Realizing this can be scary but taking on that challenge is extremely empowering. It gives us full control over our own lives. In the wilderness our resources are extremely limited and there is no one else around to help out. We learn to rely on ourselves, which boosts self-confidence.
The wilderness forces us outside our comfort zones, but that’s where all our personal growth occurs. Then we realize that we are capable of way more than we imagined. Since there are too many variables to plan for out there we have to problem solve on the fly all the time. Giving up is simply not an option so we are forced to figure out solutions using the tools at hand. It’s forces us to think outside the box and teaches us to never give up.
These lessons are necessary in the wilderness but they are also extremely useful in modern society even though they are never explicitly taught to us.
Even if you have no interest in hiking, Figure it Out will provide a philosophy that will make life easier to navigate.
The challenge and the solitude that I find in wilderness has provided a very good environment for my physical and mental health. I’m fascinated by how the wilderness experience seems to provide a sense of meaning and self-worth that’s hard to find in modern society.
Alex Maier is a documentary film maker and long distance hiker from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He has hiked some of America’s most challenging thru-hikes and he always brings his camera along to document the journey.