Thursday, October 30, 2014

In search of six

When I turned an age that I had before believed was impossible, I decided that in order to endure it, I would start the 5-0 rule. That is, on the years where I turned an age with a five or a zero on the end, I would do something big. It didn't have to be on the day, just that year. I've only had the opportunity to do this a few times, with the following big things:

1. On one zero year, I got married. (That didn't work out so well. For marriage #2, I didn't pick a big year, and it seems to be turning out just fine)

2. On a 5, I backpacked the Overland Trail in Tasmania. I cashed in all my airline miles and it was really great. Looking for a good trip? Tasmania is pretty great.

3. And this year, with a zero, I decided to spend fifty nights out in the wilderness, for the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, or backcountry if that wasn't possible, reached only by human power (so car camping did not count, but backpacking to a hut did).

It's surprisingly hard to get fifty nights in if you have a job, two houses, six pets ("It's midnight and I'm a dog! I want to go outsideIwanttogooutsideIwantogo..oh lots of things are out here to bark at! BarkyBarkBark Barkity Bark!" "Hey, I'm a kitten and I see you are composing an important document. Let me help you by running across your screen. There! I just deleted a bunch of text! Now I'm going to jump on your head!") and other obligations. I've made it to #44 though, with only six to go. When I am done I will post about what I have learned. In the meantime...

It is snowing. Which can be the death knell for backpacking. I know there are those who salivate at winter camping, and I plan to do it a little more, but honestly? You slog through the snow, carrying half your body weight, you hastily put up your tent before you freeze to death, and you dive in for a total of over fourteen hours. I just....don't get it. I want to, though. It would open up a lot more possibilities.

I'm pretty sure I'll get to fifty nights before my birthday in January. Though the high country is getting snow, we still have Hells Canyon for awhile longer. The poison ivy has died back, reports C, and the temperatures are still in the sixties. One night will go there, and three nights are spoken for at Big Bend National Park at New Years. Two more are unknowns, but I still hope to get to a lake or two before they are buried in deep snow. I'm running out of time, but the mountains are still calling. I'm not done with them yet.

Maybe that's all right. I don't like doing the same thing over and over, and it might be time to put the tent away and do something else. In winter, I run more, I ski, and reacquaint myself with the gym. I write more, and make bread. All good things that I don't have time for in the summer. There will be many more nights in tents in other years.

Do you do anything on the 5 and 0? Anything you want to share? Looking for ideas. And no, I am not going to run in one day my miles in years. That's just too far.

16 comments:

  1. Haha, your description of winter camping is entirely accurate. For me, it's not about the sleeping outside that intrigues me (because really, it's cold and kind of sucks), but the fact that I'm so slow in the snow and overnights mean I can get deeper into the wilderness than I can on a day hike.

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    1. That's true, I am slow slogging in snowshoes and the daylight is so limited. I have to balance that with my fear of freezing to death. It's funny, you carry your fears, I bring all sorts of warm stuff but still feel kind of nervous about it.

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  2. Every five years is probably the way to go. I managed three larger adventures on odd-numbered years between 2007 and 2011 and really wanted to keep it going, but it's pretty hard to keep that pace up (especially with some pretty big life changes). Every 5 gives a bit more time to plan and get resources ready. Guess I'll see if I can transition to that -- would love to do something big next year for my 35th!

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    1. I am curious to what you decide! I would ideally like to do big adventures every year but like you, it is hard to keep up. Not the least of which is financial!

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  3. Lately, every time I enter a comment, it doesn't post till I enter it again, and of course, I can never be as eloquent the second time!! On a zero in the marriage realm (the year, not a description of the marriage) I went hiking in Switzerland....it was wonderful. On a zero in my husband's years, he started a tradition of gathering with offspring in some lovely place....the first time, we hiked in the Grand Canyon. Other years: Escalante, Moab, Oregon Coast....they were great. Agree on winter camping....there are beauties out there (first snow today) but I will experience them in day hikes. Like the way you find new adventures.

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    1. There are some nice places for winter camping there, like maybe P. Rocks. That might be worth it.

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  4. I've tried to plan something epic to celebrate those 0 and 5 year marks, but I just don't seem to be very creative and the harder I think, the more stressed I get until finally I find myself doing nothing. I love the goal idea. I've been involved with a 1,000 mile club the last few years (walking/hiking). You'd think it would be easy at 3 miles per day, especially when you hike a 20 mile weekend, but if I don't stay on top of those daily miles, they seem to get away from me and I find myself short for the month.

    50 nights out is awesome! A couple years ago, I made it 39, that was exciting. I haven't added up my nights this year, but I may have surpassed that.

    I'm with you on the winter camping. Not fun for me either. I don't want to be locked in a tent for 14 hours. Too dark, too cold . . . frozen fun meter! I find myself riding my bike, day hiking, exploring local trails, snowshoeing, skiing, and taking care of home responsibilities so that I can enjoy my summer on the trails without worry.

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    1. I'm with you on the chores--and it's when I write too, so I don't feel as guilty with totally ignoring those things in summer. I bet you do have more than 50 nights this year! I envy your life as you know.

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  5. I got married and graduated from college in a year ending in 5, But lately the 0 and 5 years haven't been that great for me. Hoping 2015 will break that trend. I don't usually plan big things on these years - I do it on milestone birthday years.

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    1. Yes that is what I meant--the birthday years, not the calendar years. Guess I wasn't that clear in the post. It helps me endure the idea of getting older.

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  6. Hmmm. Married H. on a calendar year that ended in 5 and a me year that ended in 0. Does that count for two?

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  7. What a great idea! Never done it but I think I'll start now. Got some time to plan, so lots of possibilities.

    WOW the Overland Track- I've been reading about that and it sounds incredible!

    I'm still scared of camping in snow and freezing, but I like winter camping in Georgia when there is normally no snow. The hours and hours spent snug in my hammock are really relaxing, and I enjoy all that time when I don't have anything else to do.

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    1. Yes, I would like it if there wasn't snow! Just one less thing to deal with, for camping.

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  8. Got a tattoo when I turned 30. Went on a family birthday trip to the San Juan Islands when I turned 40 of which I fell in love with about 25ish yrs earlier (could've been 26 yrs earlier).

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    1. You've got a ways to go until your next 5, time to plan something big!

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