IN LAST WEEK’S BLOG I mentioned backpacking discomforts. I commented on how photos of backpacking trips seldom show them. I suggested that backpacking photos lie because of it.
I was thinking about it again during this week’s outing, a single overnight trip in the Colorado foothills with good friend, Igloo Ed. The discomforts of backpacking were especially prominent when we had to vacate our exposed summit camp at midnight after lightning flashed across the sky. Relocating in the dark, and then lying in disturbed sleeplessness listening to rain – when rain hadn’t been forecast – wasn’t exactly the height of luxury. Neither was the hot and humid night that followed, or the mosquitoes and gnats that hounded us the next morning.
But I was also thinking about other things too. I was thinking about fortunate I was to have access to a summit to not-quite sleep on. And how fortunate I was to live somewhere where rain was unexpectedly falling. And how fortunate I was to have such an interesting and warm-hearted companion with whom to share a squadron of hungry gnats.
Which helped me realize that backpacking photos don’t lie. I was so wrong! Sure, they don’t show everything – how could they? But they DO show the important stuff, the good bits, the only parts that really matter, the parts that make life worth living. And honestly, compared to the good bits, the uncomfortable parts are barely significant.
I think that dismissing discomforts is one of the many ‘life skills’ that backpacking can teach… and has taught me. In backpacking, as in life, it would be really easy to focus on the negatives. But what would that achieve?
So despite the gray skies and rain, the heat and fire smoke, and the biting gnats and mosquitoes, the sweat and the effort, the smothering clouds that hid the almost-full moon, and the marauding black ants that seemed determined to explore my face while I tried to sleep, this week’s outing brought nothing but pleasure. It was something to treasure. There was so much to be grateful for. Too much to list, if truth be told.
Gratitude, that is the thing. Gratitude is what getting out on foot into the real world is all about. Because of backpacking I live most of my life at home and away from it in gratitude. My photos merely show that. So I guess they don’t lie after all!