When John and I were in the woods this week, we spent some time talk­ing about why we like backpacking.

I said that I like the aspect of immers­ing myself in nature and break­ing away from the pat­terns of nor­mal life. You get to spend some time with your­self, and each other (because J is my awe­sometrusty­back­pack­ing­part­ner) at a pace that is defined by when the sun sets and rises, and how long it takes to get from one stream to the next. It is really cool to be immersed in a great con­ver­sa­tion about math/science/education/philosophy/pine bee­tles and then all of a sud­den you have to go up a big hill so you hike in silence for the next hour, just exist­ing in the rhythms of your foot­falls and absorb­ing the land­scape around you. Or maybe it rains (pours) and you are cold so you stay cozy in the tent and fall asleep right at dusk, and that feels really rather nat­ural. Or you wake up early and watch the moun­tain goats play­ing on the rocks above the alpine lake (that you swam in yes­ter­day in an act of brav­ery). You just sit, and observe, and laugh when the fish jump so high out of the water that they catch air.

I also admit that I quite like the sur­vival aspect of being out in the wilder­ness for mul­ti­ple days at a time. Every­thing we need is on our backs, and in an effort to keep those packs light, we pare down to just the neces­si­ties. It turns out that human beings do just fine with some food, clean water (kata­dyne + water­falls FTW), a method of keep­ing dry/warm, a way to boil water, and very lit­tle else except clean under­wear (a def­i­nite neces­sity in my book), and the lat­est addi­tion to our gear, a bear vault (which only kind of eased my total bear pho­bia but it was help­ful to keep orga­nized and made for a nice chair).

For John, the answer was more sim­ple. It’s about the hik­ing. Putting one foot in front of the other and let­ting them take you to super spe­cial places you wouldn’t oth­er­wise get to expe­ri­ence. He’s totally right, of course. Hik­ing is both the rea­son, and the method, and the excuse for get­ting to expe­ri­ence all of this:

Posted: August 17th, 2010
Categories: things i like
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