Monday, August 20, 2007

Adventures and lessons learned

As I sit here on the verge of moving into a "real life" I think back to all the trips and dreams I once had of "putting off real life as long as possible". I've been very lucky and have been able to travel more in my 23 years than most people do most of their lives. I believe that wanderlust was instilled in me by my parents at a young age when we would rarely just "sit" at home. I rarely take what is considered normal trips and they usually border on the edge of adventures.

I've camped in the middle of the desert in Utah more times that I can recall and looked at a sky so full of stars the eyes just see a glow. I've looked at a possible 2000 foot fall on Mt. Ranier on the Gibraltar Ledges route, no protection, 1000 feet of 70 degree ice, full moon, and no other people in sight. I've seen every inch of this country from west to east from the seat of a bike. I've seen glaciers in Alaska, backpacked in New Mexico and the Appalachian Trail. I've surfed in California, and spent weekends in the woods with only a knife "just for fun". I've been lucky to see places few others ever have. I've back country skied deep powder, canoed through wilderness, hung from a rope 100 feet from the canyon floor, gotten lost climbing mountains, shivered through sleepless nights in the back country, seen bears in the wild, and kayaked in the breaking surf. I don't know what it is, but I've always felt more alive in the wilderness, it just strikes something inside of me that nothing else can. I am in many ways looking forward to my upcoming career. However, I will never stop traveling and exploring the world outside of my door. Sure, these adventures have cost me some degree of normalcy, but they have also made me who I am today.

A few years back I read a book that touched something inside of me. First I read Into Thin Air by John Krakaur which details the 1996 disaster on Everest. I instantly fell in love with his writing and quickly devoured his other books on mountaineering. Then I can across his book "Into The Wild", I would recommend this book to EVERYONE hands down. It details the tragic end of a man obsessed with adventure. Sure I don't agree with everything he does/believes in, but regardless, it struck a particular cord within me. Here is the passage which is written on the cover to get you hooked:

"In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked into Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter..."

I would first recomend that everyone read the book, but the reason for me brining it up today is that next month there is a movie coming out which in even more detail than the book, follows the last 2 years of his life. Check out the site, take a look around, watch the trailer, and I promise you will be hooked. Throughout the movie Chris's actual parents and friends contributed to the film, so no Hollywood story here, just the real and tragic story.

Like said earlier, I have been lucky enough to have many adventures of my own. It's also taken me a while to realize that as much as I want a life of adventure, I need more normalcy than I ever thought. I've lived out of so many backpacks and bags for weeks/months on end, and it's been great. But now it's time to grow up a bit, buy myself a dog, and settle in a bit. However just knowing that your next adventure lies right out your front door is good enough for me.


mr. f. g. superman said...

Nice. Another book and movie added to the list of things to do whilst sitting on my ass enjoying the role of Mr. Mom for a spell, sans the kids part.

Unknown said...

Yup count me in for a reading of this book. One of my favorites books is Last American Man...check it out.


Carney said...

Oh yeah....Last American Man is one hell of a book!!!

gwadzilla said...

a fantastic read
and a tragic story

I never do much more than car camping
but it is still an adventure to me

bought Jeremiah Johnson on dvd the other day

that film is epic!

the original Into the Wild