Hannah Green writes about the unpredictability of both positive and negative entropy.

By on November 11, 2021 | Comments

I sit on the desert floor, basking in the warmth of the afternoon light. Eventually, the sun tucks behind the canyon walls and the sky fades to dark in the evening glow. In truth, I sat there attempting to think of a cohesive article to write, but my mind couldn’t get beyond a couple of sentences. I was holding onto a bunch of seemingly random ideas relating to running, life, and nature that I was wallowing in, my brain ping-ponging from one thought to another.

My dad recently sent me an article about entropy — or rather, psychological entropy. Entropy by my computer’s definition is a lack of order or predictability. Entropy is necessary for things like creativity and dreaming, but as humans, we crave low entropy states. We like our schedules and our routines. The unknown, or unpredictable, can be scary and intimidating sometimes, but also scintillating and intriguing.

In many ways, I feel like adventures outside are the balance between high and low entropy states. Putting one foot in front of another is the most predictable aspect while all the other variables of terrain, weather, water, and others are unknown. The uncertainty is also where all the stories will come from. The uncertainty is the adventure.

Last year around this time, I hiked a big, mostly off-trail loop in the Grand Canyon, and with little beta, I found myself beginning the route with a lot of questions. As soon as I veered off the trail, I met an older man hiking out. I asked him about water from where he had come, and he proceeded to give me all the information I needed after having just been there.

A couple of days later, I met some strangers; they came up behind me when I was trying to figure out which way to scramble up the canyon. Then they let me join them for the rare climb of Vishnu Temple. Something told me they were all accomplished outdoors people, particularly in the way they scaled the cliffs.

But it wasn’t until a few days later that I got a text with a photo of us on the summit saying, “This is Timmy O’Neill,” that I understood I’d had an adventure with a famous professional rock climber. Turns out that Danny Giovale, the founder of every winter runner’s beloved Kahtoola MICROspikes, and his partner Myriam Bishop, a highly accomplished Grand Canyon backpacking guide, were the other two people with whom I’d hiked.

In a million years, I couldn’t have predicted to meet such studs in the middle of the canyon, let alone climb a peak with them. Another happenstance reward of entropic adventures.

Hannah Green - Unpredictable

All photos: Hannah Green

Not all entropy is positive. We can all get stuck in life, often it seems like a product of something unpredictable or unexpected happening: heartbreak, getting laid off, or a global pandemic. However, as we push through the liminal space, we can, in due time, come through the other side with a little more understanding and confidence which the next adventure will build upon.

Whether it’s an adventure of the heart, mind, or body, we will know when it is time to climb to that ridgeline and find out what exactly lies on the other side and why we want to go there.

“Where are you headed to?” some people asked, as I crested a summit they were standing on.

“Not really sure,” I said. “The weather is nice, so I’ll see how far my legs take me.”

Roughly 25 miles and a handful of summits later, I descended the last peak in the dark, wandering through my front door exhausted but content. I had started the run late and wasn’t really sure if I would complete my big loop or not, but I brought a headlamp and some warm clothes knowing I would be fine to continue should I get benighted.

The reward for the late start, or maybe keeping going, was the incredible sunset high above the tree line. When I stumbled into my house at 10:00 p.m., it felt good to be so tired that all I could do was eat and go to sleep. And more importantly, I kept going even if I wasn’t sure where my feet were taking me.

Not knowing, but trying anyway. That’s adventure. That’s life. That’s love.

Call for Comments

  • Do you prefer a bit of uncertainty?
  • Or do you like knowing what’s going to happen every step of the way?

Hannah Green - Unpredictable

Hannah Green
Hannah Green wanders long distances by foot and takes photos along the way. When not outside, you can likely find her at the nearby coffee shop. Find more on Instagram and at Hannah Green Art.