Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things I love. (26)

I love backpacking. Not in the classics, hitch-hiking across Europe kind of 1960s hippie mumbo jumbo (though I have no opposition to an experience of that sort at all). But in the wandering mountain, backcountry, distant and forgotten land kind of approach. Where you saddle up 50 pounds on your back, including your food, shelter, clothing and a few luxuries for a week, descend into the barren prairie and to the heights of a mountain or the mysteries of a forest, with no intention of returning until you've achieved your goal. Which is both based on distant, renewal, and discovery.

This is an activity I love in Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall. With snowshoes or hiking boots, naked while wading through a river (to keep your clothes from getting wet) or fully clothed to keep the cold from stealing your soul. It doesn't matter the temperature, challenge or weather, so long as my back is strong enough and my friends are willing, I shall tackle nature and be tackled in return. I rarely come home winning in this battle of human and earth, but I never come home without a smile - and without feeling as though the city, the enormous swarm of people, is foreign in a new way. Cars are alien products that I cannot and do not know how to drive, phones are communicative tools that connect very little and reveal even less.

I love backpacking, because it connects me with nature, makes me more Canadian, human and animal, and unites me with my friends. It is an experience that I will love for as long as my body will let me.

(and I most sincerely hope that whoever it is that I end up loving completely and totally in this life will love it as well...)


  1. Whether you realize it or not, Neal, you are really allowing your readers to get to know you through this series of posts. And, like I said before, you are one special young man. I know that even more now. (Sometimes, I just wish I knew what you look like.)
    If you really want to fall in love with someone who shares this passion with you, I'm sure it will happen. Or maybe you can teach your passion for nature and backpacking to him. Either way, love comes in the most unexpected packages and at the most unexpected times. Be the best you can be always, be patient, and, when the time is right, it will happen.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bah! I don't know whether it's because I have been reading about queerness and the prairies (it all seems pretty rad, btw!), or because half the touring artists I have met lately are from the prairies, or because my friends here keep telling me about their youth in the prairies, or maybe it's simply because I read your blog... The prairies have been figuring prominently in my mind over the past few weeks. I'm even thinking of dropping my backpacking plans in South-America to finally try and crack the mystery of the prairies.

    Your post just gave me a glimpse of that mystery! Ha!