It’s Just Over the Next Hill

At the end of a long day of backpacking, I can’t help but hope that the campsite is just over the next hill. This is frequently far from the truth. And I now know that this is true of most things we are striving for. On the trail, there is a very immediate goal: the campsite…

Positive Jealosy

When I see my friends doing awesome stuff, I sometimes feel jealous. But it isn’t a negative emotion, it is an intensely positive one. I suppose it is a form of inspiration that comes as a result of seeing someone I know achieving on a high level. Celebrities can be inspiring in a way that…

Remember Why We Do This

It is easy to get distracted by the task at hand and forget about our real goals in life. When backpacking, I often get caught up in the momentary struggle. I get distracted by the act of hauling myself up the side of a mountain and I forget some of the reasons I even hike….

Explore all Angles

Our perception can change drastically depending on what we choose to focus on. Whenever I think back on a backpacking trip, I am always interested to find that it can take on different feelings. Most of the time, it feels like it wasn’t that long. Perspective makes even a three-week trip seem fleeting. It can also invoke…

Engage with Process

I recently heard composer Michael Pisaro talk about the value of engaging deeply with a seemingly simple activity. He said that the process of doing this is far more important than any sense of end product that it creates.  He was referring to a particular kind of noise-making that is the backbone of much of…

Seek out Excess

I love it when things turn out to be more than the sum of their parts. For example, I love mountains. But what we can see of a mountain is so much less than what we get. If you add up all the dirt, trees, animals, trails, and air that make up a mountain, all…

Utilize Load-Lifters

There are some tools at our disposal which can make the things we do infinitely easier. I think it is important to find these tools and utilize them to their full potential. There is really only one skill when it comes to backpacking and it has to do with the set-up of the backpack. Anyone…

Ride the Wave of Experience

No matter how many times I do something, there is always the faintest sense that I am doing it for the first time. I went to Cedar Point to ride roller coasters recently. I am a huge fan of thrill rides and have ridden many of them in the past. Despite this, I got as…

Composing by Opening Up

I am currently experimenting with writing some electronic music for a project and it is terrifying me. This particular project is a re-scoring of an old silent film. The group I am working with split the film into 7 sections and is asking 7 composers to write music for it. So the people we have…

Walking in Labyrinths

The symbol of the Labyrinth has been significant in my life ever since I helped build one for my Eagle Scout project. I recently had a profound experience while walking one that I want to share. But first some background. The Labyrinth is perhaps most recognizable as the design used to trap the Minotaur in…

Walking is Experimental

Walking is experimental. It is cliche, but when Tolkien wrote of traveling, “there’s no knowing where you might get swept off to”, he was exactly right. Each time I plan a hiking trip, I have pages of notes: topography charts, mileage marks, food orders, gear checklists, maps, contact information, reservation confirmations, backcountry permits, etc. And…

Paddle or Die!

In 2008, I went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. The River is famous as the site of the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Kayak Slalom events. It also contains a section known for its 20 named rapids of class III or higher. Class III rapids would be described by most people as small water falls. Our…