Recently someone asked me why I go off in the mountains so often and frequently experience intentional discomfort and inconvenience; the TWO most DREADED things someone in a first world country can be subjected to willingly or otherwise … I started responding and it turned into a rather long list, most of which I had never really contemplated.
1. Addicted. It’s so much fun that I can’t stop doing it if I wanted to.
2. Adventure. Day to day life is mundane and boring, I like adventure and some danger and uncertainty.
3. Appreciation. People grow to take almost everything they have for granted when they never experience being deprived from it. Appreciating a warm bed, good meal and hot shower is something that is personally very important to me on an almost spiritual level. Just because you have something, someone or some place constantly in your life doesn’t mean you always will.
3. The Challenge. Preparing and training for the physical challenge is what keeps me motivated, energized, and young. Experiencing a truly difficult physical challenge is a humbling experience mentally as well.
4. Keeps me in shape. I’ve gone from being horribly out of shape and completely inexperienced to the best shape of my life due to falling in love with hiking and mountain biking. Now I train specifically for my activities. A large amount of Americans are obese and an even greater amount are out of shape. How can you appreciate everything life has to offer in either condition? You can’t. Get off the fucking couch.
5. The awe of Nature and amazing views. I have a natural curiosity that compels me to learn about my environment and surroundings. Being out of touch with nature is unhealthy and unnatural. Nature is Godlike in creating and shaping our environment and bearing witness firsthand to a tiny fraction of this is incredible.
6. Escape. The non-presence of aforementioned lazy slugs and normal boring people. Thankfully, there are so many of these types, that the mountains are often devoid of human life altogether. The people you do meet are generally kindred spirits and super friendly and generous. These places bring out the greatest aspects of human nature and energy.
7. The Logistics of it are fun and challenging. Showing up prepared and organized with a well devised and challenging game plan and successfully completing it is a rewarding experience. This also adds to the mental challenge.
8. New England is AWESOME and this is a great way to see it, most people live and die in NE and don’t see jack shit outside of Cape traffic, Fenway Pahhhk and Fanueil Hall. I appreciate their lameness and shitty past times… less traffic and more campsites for me.
9. Skills. I’m an Eagle Scout and grew up camping so backpacking is a natural progression for me and a great extension of a fantastic childhood spent mainly outdoors learning things. Also skills are perishable so practice is essential.
10. Practice of base level survival and adaptability. Can I deal with temps 20 degrees lower than expected? A sudden thunder storm? A twisted ankle? Running out of water? Only one way to find out and each one is a huge learning experience.
11. Critical thinking & Decision Making + Great Memories. The net sum of everything stated above.
12. Relationships. Experiences are a great way to build on friendships.