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Thoughts of a Slackpacker

Note: Slackpacking is when you hike to a camping location but you don’t actually carry any camping gear. In this case, we hiked to a cave but some other guys drove our tents there.

I have never really been a very physically active person. Sports and I never really reconciled after a disastrous experience in a soccer day camp when I was five ended with tears under a huge oak tree until my dad picked me up. Martial arts and I had a brief fling before other extracurriculars nabbed most of my free time away. I have never been a physically active person, but a four hour hike that culminated in a brief camping experience underneath the shadow of a great stony outcropping, its surface marked by the peaks formed by thousands of years of watery mineral deposits…

…hasn’t changed my stance at all. Now that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the trek and subsequent settlement, I did, to some extent. However, while my legs were burning, back aching, and whole body sweating, I found a unique peace that rarely exists within my daily life in the city. At some point in our lives, we lose some of our capacity to be in awe, to be so struck by the beauty of anything that we are rendered speechless. In our daily lives, spectacular images captured in far-off places, on sets, or in computer programs have created false awe in our lives to fill the desire for beauty that is rarely satiated by our sterile, controlled routines. That being said, in lieu of taking and dragging you all the way to the cave we stayed in, I will be providing photos of our trip.

Part of this visual experience is the work you put in; the amount of enjoyment of a view is directly proportionate to the effort it took to see it. During the last portion of our hike, we climbed several grassy knolls on the way to the cave. In a literal sense of “the grass is always greener”, I always expected our destination to be on the other side of every hill, only to be disappointed by the appearance of yet another mound of dirt. After the third hill, I began to lose hope that we would ever reach the cave. However, as the number of derelict campfires grew greater and we cleared through a row of trees, the sight of the bare stone face that would be our roof floored me. The reaction of seeing a photo of this clearing pales in comparison to what I felt then and there. In our eternal quest for convenience, we’ve forgotten that effort lends the goal a unique sweetness. So while this kind of experience necessitates exertion that I may not be fond of, going on that hike exercised my body as much as it did my mind.