Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On getting lost...

The current Outside Magazine gives readers a paragraph from each of several dozen adventurers on why they do what they do. Flipping through the oft-predictable variations on "because it's there", I stopped on page 82, which I read several times. Doug Peacock, American wild man and author of "Grizzly Years" offered this bit of wisdom:
"Don't just bang down the trail thinking about your girlfriend or your stock portfolio. Go like another animal. All of a sudden you're part of an ancient system again. And after four or five days, something happens. You're part of the original landscape, a far older, more faded world."
This got me thinking about my own reasons for exploring. About the day I tried hiking with my mp3 player, then quickly put it away. It felt strange to be shutting-out. I wanted to hear the birds scattering, to get lost in the rhythm of my boots on the soft carpet of the trail. Peacock continues:
"If you're comfortable with yourself, go solo. Solitude is the deepest well I know, and it's your right to drink from it. And no GPS devices; the opportunity to get lost on today's planet is a privilege."
Ironic that the page opposite this quote displays a glossy ad for the DeLorme Earthmate, and compels adventurers to "get serious".

I would never suggest that everyday adventurers travel the backcountry without the knowledge and skills to survive. And it's tough to defend hikers whose irresponsible actions require costly and troublesome search-and-rescue.

But do we need trekking poles, $300 boots, and the latest GPS device every time we step out the door? Or are all these doo-dads and gadgets just getting in the way of a deeper relationship with our planet, and preventing us from losing ourselves in a more "ancient system"? And what of all the cast-off plastic and electronic detritus?

I realize there are no "right" answers.

As for me, I don't run with a watch or bike with a computer. The charts and graphs of my small adventures are secondary to the sights, sounds, and feelings. Doug Peacock's idea of "being connected" is far more appealing to me than the modern, technological definition.

How about you?

1 comment:

ornery said...

Loved reading about this just as much as I loved hearing about it. :) Great article.