For hikers, our packs our the center of our lives. We carry every single thing we have in our packs, and how much you like your pack can make your hike a wonderful thing or a terrible time.
I was talking with a very good friend of mine who is on her way to the Philippines in two weeks, and she asked my advice on her pack choice. She could either take her older external frame pack, a massive 80 Liter item, or a smaller internal frame 70L. She’s not really doing much backpacking, it’s more for base camp haul in/haul out – but she’s still worrying about it quite a bit.
So we talked about it – hikers can talk for hours about their gear. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to packs is to put all your stuff in it, and see how it carries the load – in other words you do the opposite of what comes naturally, which is buy the bag first and fill it up.
I hiked with a Granite Gear Blaze 60L pack in 2013 for over 2,000 miles. By the end of the trail, the back plate had broken completely once, was shattering a second time, it had a hole in the main compartment and water bottle web was completely gone. But it got me to the end, and I still use it today.
This pack took me all the way to the end. It never let me down completely ever. I didn’t always treat it as well as I should have, and it didn’t always treat me well either, but it was good. It shared my adventures and came with me everywhere.
Something my friend said though made me think.
I use the same logic when picking a mate. I see how they fit in my life and how they carry their load.
True statement. Finding someone to share your life with, and picking a backpack out are similar things if you think about it!
- Packs carry your life when hiking long distances. Your mate carries your heart. Both are capable of damaging you if they fail in their duties.
- Packs can be flawed of have a defect, just like your mate. When your pack breaks, you try and fix it – always carry your needle and thread, duct tape. Make-up sex and long conversations are the equivalent I think in relationships.
- Packs can come with guarantees, showing how much the company is willing to stand behind their product. Your mate can come with a guarantee too – in the form of a life-long commitment to you – either via marriage, another social contract or just a promise.
- You get to pick your pack, the same way you get to pick your mate – out of hundreds of other options. Some feel good, others don’t and you never really know if you’ve made the right choice until a hundred miles in.
In the end though, people out preform packs in one major area – they can grow and change. They may get worn out with you, but they don’t get thrown away – not really. Not the good ones.
But then I don’t throw out any of my packs either – I’ve sent a few off in Viking funerals, but I’ve never tossed one.
I have too much respect for my pack – broken or not
While you shake off your hangovers, brush the glitter off your face and deal with the passed out friend on your couch (this was the routine result of New Years in my house for years) I’d like to share a story with you from last night. No, it’s not the story of the wonderful people I met and talked to (including a very smart and attractive teacher), it’s one of hope and missed connections.
Everyone today is talking about resolutions and their plans for the upcoming 365 days. What they are going to change about themselves, who they are going to become.
Instead we’re going to talk of the power of hope. Fate.
This was on every single light post for 6 blocks in either direction of the bar.
Before we had such nifty things like facebook, craigslist missed connections or cell phones, you were so limited by ways you could try and get in contact with someone you missed. You could put an ad in the paper in the personals column. You could go back to the same bar every night and pray they would show up. You could try this tactic, and make posters and place them all over town. But all of these relied on hope that they’d see it, or that fate would bring them back into your life.
This lady made a mistake – I don’t know what it is, or how it came about. All that matters in my eyes is that she went so far, and tried so hard to rectify it. She made a grand romantic gesture and put herself out there. She used all of the means she had available and more than anything, wants things to work.
I want them to work out for her too. We all should be so lucky as to have things work out for us.
It’s a new year. You have all the opportunities before you that you wish to make. Some of us will sit back and let life takes it’s course. Let fate steer us along the path. Others will stand up and take action. Try and make the river flow in the directions we want, change the path we walk.
Some will learn that the directions they want to go in aren’t feasible, despite everything they wish and desire. They’ll build walls and dams to divert the flow as long as possible. But water always wins in the end.
I think the smartest among us will build boats – and follow the river. They’ll control their speed and course, make decisions on when to stop and what branches to take. They’ll work with fate, and become not as a master to the river of fate, but as a companion.
I encourage you to think about what you really want this year. What hopes you actually have that you don’t ever say – except in the dead of night when no one can hear. Those hopes you have? Those should be the ones you follow and act on. They are the ones I think that are important. Promise yourself you’ll listen to them.
Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a better day.
If nothing else, one day you can look someone straight in the eyes and say “But I lived through it. And it made me who I am today.”
― Iain Thomas
At this time of year, we are all in the habit of looking at where we’ve come from in the past year, what growth we’ve made. We ponder what the new year will bring, and make promises to ourselves about what will do to improve ourselves.
For myself, 2013 was a roller coaster ride. I went from depressed and longing, to utter happiness and accomplishment, then back to being morose. I started the year in my eyes as a failure and ended as a winner when it came to hiking.
Highlights of the year 2013
- Walked 2185.7 miles
- Met some amazing people
- Saw sights I never had before
- Made discoveries about myself, and the person I am
- Feel in love
- Was cheated on
- Made a grand romantic gesture, sans boombox
- Started playing music again
- Accomplished what I set out to do
Everything on that list, baring one, were things I did. I had ups and downs, good times and bad. I followed my dreams and was rewarded. I was also punished for decisions I made along the way.
In the end though, after 365 days I’m older and a little wiser. I’ve accepted the fact that my parents know what they’re talking about, and mom is usually right. I should follow my dreams and make plans for the future, budget and commit to things. I should let people know how I feel, and especially tell the people that I care for that I love them.
I don’t know what the new year will bring. I can’t look into the future like that, though sometimes I wish I could. All that really is for sure is that you can’t change what has happened, nor can you forget the things in the past. Embrace them. Accept them. Make them part of who you are. Take the things that hurt, the people that you miss and use those good memories of them to plug the holes in your heart and soul.
The things that hurt you in the past year have made you stronger – I know that because we’re still here.
I hope the coming year brings joy and happiness. It limits your sorrows and dulls your pain. May we all heal a little in the year 2014.
Thank you for reading.
This was on Reddit today. It really moved me.
Love is such a powerful and beautiful thing. You’ll do all kinds of things for the person you love – and when they love you back they do the same.
I don’t know if I believe in the idea of “one true love” – it’s a hard thing to really accept, given just how many people there are in the world… but I do believe in True Love.
I’ve felt love. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. It was painful. It was heartbreaking when it was over.
But what I learned from all of that, from loving someone so much that I gave things up I wanted dearly, changed my hike for them and then tried my hardest to better for them, was that it’s worth it. Love is worth all the pain and suffering that can come from it. Because even if you only have it for a moment, it’s a special thing.
You don’t have that love just through yourself. You have it together with another person. So if you have someone out there you love – run to them! Get on a plane, a bus, a train. Jump in your car and drive all night. Make that effort to be with them. They’re worth it.
Sometimes, a grand romantic gesture is just what the world needs.
Sometimes you just need to be with that person you love – no matter what the cost.
A friend once told me that she learned to love again thanks to the AT. I did as well. It’s something I’ll always cherish that, and the person who taught me to love again.
What are you doing still reading this? Go! Run to your love. Or at least call them!