Why do you older folks still backpack?

One response is that many places are just too far to go and return the same day. But there is more to it. Even a destination close to the trailhead cannot be adequately experienced by merely passing through in a single day. The wilderness reveals its secrets slowly, with the golden sunrise, the morning calm, the noontime breeze, the evening mosquito, fish jumping at sunset, the vast wash of the Milky Way by night. And so much more. To awaken in the wilds is to be there for the first time ever. And so we backpack still, for that simple reason: to be there.

There is an internal component also. To live with the flowing stream, feel the breeze on our faces, hear the birds chatter and the leaves rustle, smell the aroma of pine needles or sagebrush, awakens something inside. The awakening can only begin when we are free of the infernal babble of television, the background roar of traffic, the cloying scent of fabric softener from a thumping clothes drier, and the ten-thousand distractions of civilization. But when we immerse ourselves totally in the wilderness, we begin to perceive a pure, primordial call note reverberating within us.

Copyright © 2004 by Richard S. Platz, All rights reserved