We Are Not Mountain Bums, Unfortunately

As hikers, backpackers and climbers, we are by nature gutsy.  We voluntarily use our weekends and infrequent vacation breaks to venture into the wilderness where the woods can be creepy and lonely, water-based parasites can infect our bowels and ruin our lives, let alone our trip, where alpine trails are always treacherous at best, and where the possibility of crossing into a bear cub (where is its mama?) or wildlife mad from rabies is a viable risk worth purchasing a good insurance policy over. 

Come to think of it, the case could be made that we are not gutsy, but rather mentally imbalanced.  We choose, after all, the dangers of the world without coffee shops, 24-hour technical support, drive-ins, and HD premium channels.  In fact, we could be diagnosed with something if the fact that we highly value the reward a trip to the outdoors brings through the deprivation from modern conveniences and the enjoyment of time being based on the sun and the seasons rather than a clock and a calendar, not to mention the constant reminder notes on our Blackberries is not weighed. 

Then again, maybe we are just not gutsy enough.  We do not exercise the courage to quit our jobs that benevolently bestow us with two-to-four weeks of vacation in which to play in the hills in exchange for 48 to 50 weeks of hard labor per year.  If you are like me, our families rely on us to earn a living, mow the lawn, and, let’s face it, we like the brand new Subaru Outback we just bought on credit.  As professionals and loyal members of our families, we all deserve gold stars.  As backcountry aficionados, well… most of us have earned the little orange spade award. 

Let’s imagine if we could enjoy our adventures in the backcountry without the chore of going to work nine to five (which seems to be a grossly inaccurate description for people’s work schedules these days), would we be satisfied?  Would we miss the generous salary?  Would our families miss the income?  Would our mortgage companies excuse our frivolous departure from making regular installments, and – dare I even wonder – could we be allowed to keep our new cars?  In the end, unless we obtained some income by serving coffee in the corner shop, or at least sweeping up at an outfitter, our trips to the outdoors would be reduced to a type of vagabond-homelessness. I believe our significant others would never forgive us for that, so I will not be reporting on such an experiment in future posts.  Sorry. 

So instead of casting off the burdens of employment, we accept working in office spaces with or without a view of any kind, and that we will not be mountain bums.  We will go on knowing we will not be mountain guides, leading clients daily into the wilderness and up and down perilous routes.  We will go on working at our computer terminals wishing we were ascending a ridge above tree line instead.  We will go on spending more time thinking about and planning our hikes and climbs than we actually hike and climb.  We will go on acquiring gear for trips we may or may not take and that may or may not be overkill for what the trip truly requires. 

For us, life is far better hiking, backpacking and climbing a little, than not joining in the gutsy, crazy sports at all.

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