As I jot down notes on my travels through geologic and mental space, there are a number of things I really want to avoid — things that make lots of other nature and adventure writing and film unpalatable to me in spite of superior craftspersonship. The first one I’ll address is coming off as too serious about all this hiking and climbing do. Let’s face it: Our little excapades are pretty darn frivolous.
Do I find great personal value in my explorations? Yes. Do I believe there are profound insights about life and death to be gleaned from jaunts into the wilderness? Absolutely. Is there “deeper” meaning we bestow? Ineluctably.
What I wholeheartedly disavow, however, is the notion that the travels I’m writing about here really matter in the big scheme of reality. I mean, at this very moment there are humans on Earth who are trying not to starve to death, humans who are fighting wars, humans who are probing the interiors of atoms, humans who are tracking lethal contagions, and humans who are rearing the next generation of our species. My enterprises pale in comparison.
Truth is, I go into the hills and dales to have myself a good ol’ time. For me, above all, it’s all about getting the endorphins surging through my veins and laughing hard with the friends I’m with. Pushing myself physically and mentally is a powerful mood booster, able to lift me out of the darkest and deepest of existential tar pits and right on up to the goofy heights of nephelokokkygia. Being with good people only amplifies the bliss factor.
Unfortunately, I think lots of producers of nature/adventure media — particularly those in the climbing domain — have an overly-inflated view of what they do. For so many, climbing is an identity, a means of separating oneself from the rest of the miserable wretches on the planet, and a way of life that’s not to be trivialized.
Heck, you needn’t look farther than the February 2015 issue of Climbing Magazine to see how seriously people take themselves. Did you know there’s people with climbing shoes and cams and quickdraws tattooed on their bodies? Then there’s all the malarky in the adds spewed by companies trying to sell you satisfaction and purpose and feelings of superiority.
So Why Write?
So, you may wonder, why keep a record of my activities if they’re all meaningless under the sun? I’ve wondered the same. Though my reasons are likely to evolve as time goes on, my justification is currently three-fold — in the following order:
1.) Writing helps me remember trips I’ve gone on and process things I’ve learned, hopefully solidifying my knowledge and deepening my enjoyment of future expeditions. Farther Still is kind of like my own personal Wikipedia, an index I can return to periodically for review.
2.) I also write because I hope it will aid in your own enjoyment of the outdoors, informing you of places to go and of little interesting factoids about those places. Like Wikipedia, this is a public resource. Like Wikipedia, this is a project that’s also open to your input. Corrections, trivia, lesser-known climbing spots: lay it on me!
3.) Lastly, I hope to entertain you and to engage your minds. Our universe is replete with wonders. If I can funnel a few that I come across in your direction, if I can make your world more interesting in some small way, I’ll be happy as a clam.
- Metaphors We Climb By (Farther Still)
- Mission Creep (Farther Still)
- You Could Be Doing Something Else (Farther Still)
(Today’s photo of the Oregon Coast comes from Natalie Rae Good’s Tumblr.)