While in Peru, I met three women, all of them wore eyelash extensions like they were t-shirts. You go out onto the Inca trail, you take only the basics with you. You leave the rest behind. They considered eyelash extensions to be a staple, somewhat the way I view SPF 50 and a proper water filter. And in a way, they were going about the Inca trail differently. They were horseback riding their way to Machu Picchu. This would cut the normal three day journey down to two. And it would require considerable skill. I asked one of them how she learned to ride. Well, she said, both her friends had been trained to ride and had 10 years of experience on horses. She, on the other hand, had always been something of an adventuress. She had seen a horse in Bermuda, and she had taken it into her head to learn how to ride it. And now here she was, in Peru ready to embark.
The memory surfaced recently, when I was preparing to go snow camping. It’s a combination of backpacking, snowshoeing, and camping all in one. I had gotten it into my head somehow that this was a great idea, and it stressed me out. I had to invest in real gear. Some people like that part, buying shiny new things. I hate that part. I wish everything were free, especially down-filled pants. But if I trotted out into the snow in jeans and a t-shirt, I would probably die. Cotton kills, as the saying goes.
How did I get here? At some vague point in time about two years ago, I decided to change into a different person. This other person, I decided, would be someone who liked the outdoors. Now, I have neither a hero’s heart nor a puppy’s spirt. I was built for quiet contemplation. But sometimes, it’s nice to try on a different persona, a different mindset, and to look out at the world as opportunity for adventure.
So what I have here is a cave I dug for myself to sleep in. The walls and floor were made of snow, and when I woke up, my boots were frozen stiff. The next day, I summited an unknown peak and looked down. I was adventuring.