I’ll confess right up front. I am an obsessive hiker. I was on my first overnight as a twelve-year-old Boy Scout.
I was an avid hiker as an adult, week-ending as often as possible year round.
And I still hike at eighty-eight.
I’m even taking a few minutes to write this post at the Santa Barbara trail-head before setting off on an eight-mile hike with my dog, Tessa.
The best times of my life have been spent on a trail in the woods, somewhere or other.
Let me tell you of the time I broke free from the last vestiges of my wilderness fears.
It was 29 and single. I’d been heading up a project over the past few years. And it came to a sudden stop.
It was early spring and a number of my rock-climbing chums were heading out to the high peaks.
By “high peaks” they meant the Sierras in California, Cascades in Oregon and Washington, Tetons in Wyoming and the Bugaboos in British Columbia.
Two of the guys, who were often on ropes I led there in the Shawangunks, invited me to join them in the Cascades. But, I didn’t have the wherewithal for snow camping and glacial climbing.
One said, “We’ll buy your gear for if you’ll come along to lead the rock pitches. Dick and I will lead the ice and snow routes.”
That settled it of course. I sub-let my Greenwich Village apartment, took a friend of my father’s on my drive west to help with gas money.
Every night we camped out at some small patch of woods wherever we could find one. In fact, I camped under the stars every night from early April through late October. The only time I was under a roof was to buy groceries.
This ‘sabbatical ‘ turned into the best time of my life. Best ever!
And, one part was the best of the best! It deserves a place of its own. It was the final door-opener to my deepest immersion into the wilderness.
I’ll tell of that in my next post.
Just so you know, my most recent book is Backpacker & Hiker’s Handbook. It is an accumulation of trail hints from this and my numerous other treks in forests, mountains, deserts and canyons.