2018: Cramming 10lbs of Fun Into a 5lb Bag

For me, 2018 was pretty amazing. I got married and it was the best experience of my life. Being surrounded by everyone I love and care about on such an important day meant more than I can ever describe and the high from that experience lasted weeks. We also settled into our home and wrapped up some big DIY projects as well as having a giant veggie garden.

For our wedding and honeymoon, I was able to be off of work for roughly a week and a half. Before this, I had not had a continuous week off since February of 2017, over a year and a half prior. All my time off was in little bits, long weekends every now and then and no real “break”.

Looking back, I’m surprised how much I was able to cram in, with “cram” being the operative word. For me, being in the outdoors is a recharge I can’t live without. My job is making it progressively more difficult to use my time off. I learned long ago that our time is precious, it can be taken away at any time. While I was able to “cram” fun time in, its certainly not an ideal way to go about living. When I’m cramming shit in, life is out of balance.

On your deathbed, you’ll never think “I wish I worked more, and harder”. Your deathbed may be coming sooner than you think. Four years ago I had a serious MRSA infection out of nowhere. In the past two years I’ve known several people to get cancer diagnoses including my own father (for the 2nd time). Everyone’s alive thankfully, but its important to let mortality inform how you spend your time.

This year the theme of my trips were bigger mile days in less time. Next year I want to dial that back a bit and find a better balance between having too much boring camp time and not enough time to smell the roses. Crushing miles (for my abilities) on bike or by foot allows you to cover ground, complete a loop quicker, but it has its drawbacks. What I didn’t like about the way I designed some of my trips was when the mileage (bikepacking and hiking) needed per day felt more like a job to do. I have enough pressure in my professional life that I don’t need an extra pointless challenge on my off time.

I noticed that I see the least amount of wildlife when I’m trying to crush it. The wildlife is all still there, but my focus and awareness are elsewhere. There’s no telling what I’ve blown right by, looking at the trail right in front of my feet.

There’s not as much space to simply be present in the place where you are. There’s less time to compose photos, go swimming, explore off-trail, etc.

The solution is having more time in the bank generally speaking and working less. With the way things are now with my job, that’ll be impossible. So, I’ve got to figure something else out and I’m excited about what 2019 holds.

4 Comments

  1. Just had a similar conversation last night with my buddy as our Hammocks were swinging across from each other. Sometimes we rush so hard to get to camp. Only to eat, sleep and leave. We’ve been working on less rush, less crush more reflection and insight. It’s good for the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Cole (?)

    I really loved this writing.

    I guess I’ve had the opposite of you for a while: random jobs, very little money, very little stability. However, over last summer I worked between 6 and 8 days in a row for months on end. And while the cash was a means to an end to escape the terrible situation I had found myself in, I think if I ever found myself in the same situation, I’d rather vagabond it again and leave sooner.

    Not sure if any of this makes sense to you, but it sounds like you’re examining what you want and what you don’t.

    I think you’ve also done more of a threadbare life, judging by your way of being, and so you know the tradeoffs on either side. I guess I was thinking a lot about comfort lately. I was watching this shitty viking series on Netflox called The Last Kingdom (it’s actually not that bad, I’m just embarrassed that I “watch a show” haha) and they had this episode with people living in reed huts on the edge of a marsh. The village created for the set was totally real, like real structures in a marsh. And it was muddy, cold, damp and uncomfortable. But it got me thinking about all the trade offs that we make, and generation upon generation of humans before us, have made for comfort. We’re all so fucking comfortable now (well, many aren’t, but you get the idea) that Comfort has almost seem like the no. 1 priority of the human race. To barely ever have to do anything that involves “work” ie physical labor, time spent outside in weather, etc.

    All this comfort costs! And you gotta pay for it somehow. And is a comfortable life interesting? Definitely not. Since I could choose, I have always chosen the harder path over the comfortable one, within reason of course. As you said, death is always creeping up, creeping up. And injury and sickness and all that too. A friend of mine got run over on his bike and couldn’t hike for two years. I mean shit happens. Be careful, and be serious about the path.

    Anyway, that’s what I think about what you wrote.

    I’ll probably be up in PTownsend this spring/summer. Maybe for the long-term. We’ll see!

    Take care,

    – Hudson

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post all sounds too familiar. Time is an outdoor person’s most precious commodity. I’d wish you luck in finding the balance. But it is not luck that makes the balance. It is deliberate decisions and careful planning. And it sounds like you are working towards that!

    Liked by 1 person

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