with 2 Comments

Out on the Trail

I have difficulty describing the beauty of what I see on the trail.

It isn’t easy to put into words.  And not very effective.

Pictures do better. But, even they can’t capture the mood of the place that I want to share with someone after I return home.

And the picture of the scene, as I see it, is only one aspect of my experience.

It isn’t even easy for me to recollect these experiences afterward, never mind try to explain it to someone when I can’t point and say, “Wow! Look at that.”

And I mean, look at that header image of Taos Mountain up at the top of the page. I saw that one evening as the sun was going down behind me.  It hints at what I felt that evening.


The more you experience something, the less you can explain it;

and the more you try to explain the experience the less you experience it.

Sounds simple. And it really is.

Just try to describe a stint of pain that you experience.

Isn’t explaining it nothing like having the pain itself?

And vice versa, isn’t suffering the pain nothing like the words that you try to describe it?


I backpack into this lean-to a couple of times a year. It is right next to the Rio Grande River at the bottom of the gorge in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area. Only twice in my twenty-two years out here have I seen other campers in one or two of the seven lean-tos strewn out along the river a few miles apart.

The Details

My physicist friend, Eugene Kovalenko, from the Los Alamos Lab introduced me to what he calls his Kovalenko Spiritual Principle.

It’s a take on the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Don’t be intimidated by the science.  It is only a spiritual conundrum.

Let me give it to you the way Eugene gave it to me.

He gave me two mathematical formulas (or shouldn’t I say formulae?)

The first is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

ΔΔ≥ ℏ

In plain English, it says

The more you know about the momentum of a tiny bit of light energy the less you know about its location;

and conversely, the more you know about its location the less you know about its momentum.

Now substitute two ideas in those sentences and that gives you the Kovalenko Spiritual Principle.

Δ! ΔE ≥ ℏ

In plain English,

The more you experience something, the less you can explain it; and conversely, the more you explain it, the less you experience it.

Try explaining your feeling of listening to the opening chords of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.  Or the sound of the Rio Grande rushing by my lean-to camp.

Doesn’t trying to describe the feelings take you away from what you experience while listening to the sound?

And really, would anyone know what you experience when you try to explain the sounds for them?


Coming Up

In future posts I’m going to talk more about this difference between experiencing a thing and trying to describe it to others.

It is at the heart of spiritual experience and the various stories about it.

First I am going to talk about a New York Times bestseller, Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.

Honestly, here’s a guy who “got it.”  I mean he got spiritual enlightenment and tried to explain it to others in an 800-page book, which earned him a Nobel Prize for general non-fiction and several other honors.

But really? Eight hundred pages to explain the non-logical experience I have out here in my camp and during my morning meditation!


To change the subject, I have a book you might be interested in reading.  It is not just a handbook, but I couldn’t help telling a lot of stories about hikes and people I’ve hiked with or met on the trails.  Check it out Backpacker & Hiker’s Handbook.

And if you’d like notices of my future posts, why not subscribe free in the sidebar to the right?

2 Responses

  1. coachtarawoodruff
    | Reply

    This is So true! what a Gift, Thank you 🙂

    • BackpackerBill
      | Reply

      I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Leave a Reply