Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sauntering in a New Direction

As you might expect if you've read any of this blog, I spend a lot of time thinking and dreaming about backpacking. I think of places I'd like to see, new gear I'd like to be using, trail meals to cook, and what it feels like to be deep in the heart of forests and mountains. As you might not expect, I don't actually get out backpacking all that much. I hike the woods around my home often enough, but the truth is I want get away and do more wilderness backpacking. It's a sad to say, but I spend a lot more time dreaming about backpacking than actually doing it. That needs to change, and it needs to change immediately. Beginning now I will be far more intentional about making time for hiking and backpacking. As I envision it, my backpacking will mostly be solo; but I want to share the experience with others. Like John Muir, I want to be an evangelist for nature.

For years now I have wanted to do more backpacking than I do, but other things always come up, and way leads on to way, and opportunity never seems to knock. There's nothing wrong with this. Things that have kept me busy were always good things, and I regret none of them. But still my dreams of walking mountain trails have always remained.

Also on my mind is the simple fact that I'm getting older and I can't seem to do anything about it. Next month I will turn 55. This clearly limits how much more opportunity I have. I figure about 10 years if I'm lucky. That means I have to stop dreaming and start doing. Backpacking trips don't just happen. I'm only going to spend more days and nights on the trail if I make hiking a real priority.

To this end, I plan to begin spending a weekend a month backpacking or at least taking full-day hikes. This is going to require reordering a few other things in my life, but I realize I have to do this. Once I get in the habit of backpacking regularly, we'll see where it goes from there.

As I've said, I want to share my love of hiking and nature with others. One way I've been doing this is through Scouting, and I would definitely want to continue teaching in that way. I also want to share the natural world with my best friend and most enthusiastic supporter, my wife, Beth. We hike together often in our own woods at home, so I'm sure she'll want to see some of these wilder places I've told her about. Beyond sharing the trail physically with others, I want to share through my writing on this blog. As I learn and grow as a backpacker, I plan to share what I'm learning here. My greatest hope is that others will be encouraged and take to wild trails themselves.

I will spend some time sharing equipment tips and the like, but I don't want to get caught up trying to cover the same material that is covered much better elsewhere. There are lots of good books and online resources to teach you how to backpack, so I won't try to do what they do. Blogs and websites about hiking must by their very nature include quite a lot of instruction filled checklists and equipment recommendations. A few resources helpfully focus on where to go hiking with tips for route selection and trip reports. But I hope not only to tell you where and how, but why. I am convinced that once you feel the pull of wild nature and become enchanted with her beauties you will have little trouble figuring out how or where.

God seems to have made me to be a witness, a celebrant, of his glorious creation, and I aim to see more of it. The natural world is marvelous and cries out to be explored. I hope you will join me.

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