“Without enough wilderness America will change. Democracy, with its myriad personalities and increasing sophistication, must be fibred and vitalized by regular contact with outdoor growths — animals, trees, sun warmth and free skies — or it will dwindle and pale.” Walter Whitman (Photo from Frances Lake, Eagle Cap Wilderness, 1982 backpacking trip)
The Boys, S. Fk. Malheur River, 1986 Doesn’t that water look inviting back there?
My dad took me, my mom and a slew of kids camping each Summer. It was the once a year camping trip to a couple different places that centered around fishing and were there enough other campers to increase the likelihood of girls?
My dad didn’t fish. He built a camp and because it usually rained at some point he brought lots of old canvas tarps, rope and duct tape. We had great camps. The kids were free to head out to fish and look for those girls. We were guaranteed breakfast, lunch and dinner often cooked not on the Coleman stove but over an open fire.
I never listened to my Dad discuss how to camp. I just watched him do all these different things and it computed.
In later years, I did the same thing and had so much fun in providing my kids and their friends with what I believe were great camping/backpacking experiences in far flung places. Today, all my kids are capable of creating their own camping experiences. My oldest son is headed out this week to camp with his family. Perhaps time around those campfires, or sitting out the storm in the old tent trailer or under a tarp really did have an impact?
The Boys, Minam River, 1987 (SwittersB)
Yes, to be sure there were upset stomachs, falls, stings, cuts, heat stroke, sunburns and the like, but they weathered it all well.
With day hikes, fly fishing, back packing and camping my kids and their friends all benefited from the outdoor experience and learned how to prepare and manage their own gear and ultimately how to share that with others.
The old rig in the Steens Mountains, 1990 (SwittersB)
That caught your attention didn’t it. Did mine. But, after I read a bit about backpacking the far flung reaches with their ‘grumbling in the tummy’ then I got it. And, oh my yes, isn’t it true! Fun couple, it appears and Nick fly fishes for goodness sakes. Great travelogue and photography and very interesting adventures.
Some thirty plus years ago, I entertained doing the same thing. I was an avid backpacker. I had read works by other hikers that had traversed the Pacific Crest Trail and seriously considered doing the same. I even studied maps and the intersecting highways where food caches could be established.
But, also, I had read Colin Fletcher’s works on not just the Pacific Crest Trail but also the Grand Canyon. The adventure of it all was alluring. The solitude. The self sufficiency drew me in. I read every thing I could about both trips. I wrote Fletcher, but he never replied. He was probably standing naked (his normal hiking attire I recall) in some desert canyon.
Suddenly, life got complicated and although it all begged escapism, I hunkered down, stalled out and the glorious plans evaporated. Later, I would re-emerge and continue to back pack but the wanderlust of a truly grand expedition gave way to the Cascades, Eagle Cap, the Strawberry’s…gentler yet still remote enough locations. Fishing became a pronounced subplot to hiking too.
I still enjoy reading about others who venture forth in varying degrees to any part of these systems. Damian Koshnick’s writing (“composing”) seems very interesting.
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”