Dear Husband, Family, and Friends,
I am writing to apologize, because once again I am disappearing into the wilderness for the holidays. I know, I know: this is supposed to be a time for being together, eggnog, baking, etc. (What is eggnog?) Instead, I am going backpacking in Big Bend National Park. And trust me, I have been the recipient of some strange looks, and an unspoken sentence: What is wrong with you?
The truth is, I wish I knew why the mountains call to me more than most people. Why I work grueling ten hour days in the summer, starting at six in the morning, just so I can sneak away on a Friday. Why a day off feels wasted unless I am out there. Why I feel like a clock is ticking down the years, hours, minutes, telling me, someday you might not be able to do this. Now is the time. Why sleeping fifty nights in one year in the backcountry is so important.
And here's something else: As much as I love this little mountain town, there have been times when it has been lonely. I haven't met a tribe, like I have in other places. There are some great friends, who I can count on for a day hike, sometimes an overnight, if other responsibilities don't claim them. But the kind of people I used to sleep outdoors with under a blanket of stars, hike wildly through the woods with map and compass, seeking a hidden lake, the ones like those...No. And again I wonder, what is different about me, why can't I be more like my wonderful friends, who can balance their chores, their obligations, with wilderness?
I know that my people are out there, because I've "met" them on blogs and long distance hiking trail forums. When I read that one bloggy friend was headed out for a long hike over Christmas, I thought..Yes! It's not just me!
But anyway. I know you know all this. You know that I'd rather visit you when the tundra isn't quite so frozen instead of a forced holiday. You know that getting out into the wilderness is what fills me up. You have seen the evidence of otherwise: Crankypants rides again. You all know that in spite of what I do, you are just as important as wilderness. Thanks for understanding.