There is a very clear moment in my adult life relating to self-understanding. I had just gone to an Eastern Mountain Sports store and purchased $700 worth of hiking gear. I had a job now and didn't need to keep borrowing my parents' stuff. One of the indispensable items was the Appalachian Mountain Club's White Mountain Guide (pictured on right). My first ever charitable gift was to the AMC.
That book is a labor of love born by a century of hikers documenting all the trails over the ancient, rugged wilderness of New Hampshire. Its preface opens with the mindset of any backpacker -- "Hiking is a sport of self-reliance...":
Hiking is a sport of self-reliance. Its high potential for adventure and relatively low level of regulation have been made possible by the dedication of most hikers to the values of prudence and independence. This tradition of self-reliance imposes an obligation on each of us: at any time we may have to rely on our own ingenuity and judgment, aided by map and compass, to reach our goals or even make a timely exit from the woods.While the penalty for error rarely exceeds an unplanned and uncomfortable night in the woods, more serious consequences are possible. Most hikers find satisfaction in obtaining the knowledge and skills that free them from blind dependence on the next blaze or trail sign, and enable them to walk in the woods with confidence and assurance. Those who learn the skills of getting about in the woods, the habits of studious acquisition of information before the trip and careful observation while in the woods, soon find that they have experienced the “Freedom of the Hills”.
It's an amazing feeling, to be at home and free by your own planning, resourcefulness, and ingenuity in a place most find wild and scary; these are the experiences liberation is made of. Being free and independent of as much as possible leads you to Ultralight Backpacking, where people go one step further and bring the lightest weight and most simple kit safely possible for a given trip.
I want to do more of this in my everyday life. It's living minimally but not for minimalism's sake: To liberate onesself from the unnecessary stuff. I want to take the philosophy of Ultralight Backpacking and start living Ultralight.
You don't get this kind of experience from the latest fashions:
Thanks for the lessons, Dad.