This month I am co-leading a backpacking course in California's High Sierra. I will be teaching ten seventeen years olds, helping them learn the skills they need to successfully navigate the various challenges of backcountry travel.
We will live with what we can carry on our backs, bringing only what we need, riding that fine line between comfort and chilly hunger.
This is one of my favorite aspects of most nature activities. When engaged in them I am usually living out of small spaces.
One of the first times I remember learning this was back in 1992. I was returning from a month long bike tour in Montana and Canada and preparing myself to go off to graduate school.
I had just experiences one of the happiest , most vibrant and alive months of my life, filled with new experiences, relationships, lots of laughter and connection and I had done it all with a bike and the materials I could shove into four medium sized pannier bags and a handlebar bag. It was an extremely small amount of stuff: gear clothing, a few books, a journal and some food.
I opened the door to the storage unit that contained all of the stuff I had to take with me to graduate school and I paused.
Hadn't I just experienced one of the happiest times of my life?
Hadn't I just done it with only what I could load onto my bike?
What was all this other stuff for then?
I am living out of a backpack this month. I will be dining with glaciers and mountain peaks, sleeping with meadows and communing with creeks. I hope to bring some of this back to RTE and share some of the insights I gather while living, teaching, and learning in what John Muir called the Range of Light.