Four years ago this month I lost the job I found my way into when I first moved to Portland. I was interning at a backpack company and looking to start my own thing. That was only kind of working out, and it was suggested that I take a trip, that I needed to go on a trip.
That trip was four days in the Mt. Stuart range just a smidgen north of Cle Elem Washington. Signe and I had been dating just long enough that I was meeting her family for the first time, and I asked her to drop me off before she headed back to Portland. It had been years since I’d gone backpacking and this trip was my first true alpine experience. The combination of loosing my job and not having any true prospects on the horizon, and some intense interpersonal battles along with feeling a little lost provided a perfect environment for self assessment. A bit of the feeling I was talking about in last Wednesday’s post.
Monday morning I leave on the first proper adventure I’ve gone on in a long time, when I start pedaling a path through the Olympic Peninsula. I’m doing it for a story so I’ll keep the details of the trip on the down low for now. I can say that I choose to do this ride so I could create the gig, my first true gig. Now I’m finding that this is type of ride is exactly what I need.
Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to combine the ideals of “fast and light” alpinism that I aspired to, but was never strong enough -mentally or physically – when I was climbing. I had a small inkling then, but its clear now that I was a fraud then. I knew where I wanted to be, but knowing I wasn’t there I faked it, hoping I would eventually make. I did all the training, rarely went on the trips. I got close to the ideal a few times and I failed trying to achieve it more time than I can recall.
When I first conceived this trip I saw it as traditional bike tour. Steel bike, laden with panniers, self supported; tent, sleeping bag, stove, extra clothes, all the stuff they tell you to toss in. Kitchen sink style. Problem was I didn’t want a bike that was just for that. But over the months of planning I’ve settled on doing this fast and light. Maybe two overnights. Small sleeping bag, tarp for cover, stove for boiling water, coffee, noodles and oatmeal.
I said I failed a lot when it came to Fast and Light Alpinism, but it wasn’t because I didn’t know how to go light. Near monthly camping trips between the ages of eleven and sixteen taught me how to do that, climbing just refined that idea. So I’ve got that down. Now I just have to do the pedaling.
There’s still the story I pitched. That will get written. There is also another theme emerging and I’m excited to dig into that story as well.
Of course that means there won’t be any posts this week. I need to unplug for a week. See you when I get back.