Most honest people would agree that when you live in the city and it's winter, you get to jonesing about being someplace else. When you have the gear staring at you, somehow (unlike a treadmill) you really want to get on it. Of course the itch gets more scratch-worthy when you've not seen the sun in weeks, and precipitation in solid form precludes a good romp outside. Me I like to take trips and sometimes, just the planning can keep you alive. I have often told younger friends, that the looking forward and the planning, can be every bit as therapeutic as the adventure -- And of course they think I'm nuts. I tell them to think of stasis like being incarcerated; You shouldn't -- But you generally do begin at some point to count down rather than up, even as the days mire you like a marshmallow in a Jello-mold.
The elixir for the common doldrum is to make plans Larger plans bring greater relief from the winter treadmill. As you step-off the endless walk-way, and gather your thoughts, Where do you see yourself headed?
Me I want to ride, then paddle a bit, camp some, and then ride some more, and then sleep a bit and eat a ton. I'm not sure what is more exhausting, sitting around waiting for the ice to melt on the lake, or an epic journey, But I can say that the wanderlust when it hits looks far more invigorating than my couch. I have a few bikes, and when I think of them like selecting people to be on my dodgeball team, I wonder which ones may resent me for not being picked. I have a pack-raft the size of a loaf of bread, and a paddle which may fit in an iPad case, so it's no surprise that any of my bikes could drag my gear to the nearest river for a bit of rowing about. It's mildly pornographic how many times in January I've read blogs about packing trips, and bad-ass adventures. I lay on my pillow some nights hoping to drift away to dream about a piney camp-fire, a shot of espresso, and the piquant smell of Deep Woods Off. Oh please take me elsewhere.
I'm thinking of the National forest but can't settle upon which one, and so I dive into route planning with an open mind, and heart. Of course JT sounds exciting when all we've seen is pissing sleet and grey snow, but I'm thinking of a place with a bit of water, and paddling.
I'll begin with a place, then move to gather the gear, and then inevitably pile a ton of shit on the rug before me to begin the process of parsing out what is not essential. Right about now, I have a visual list in my noggin of some key items, Bag, Tent, Pad, Axe, Tools and Tubes... The list goes on, and you know in every trip, every place, I seem to find the surplus at the end, that I didn't need to bring. In each Voyage across the sea, and every summit, in every weekender, or day-trip, I am carrying something that I don't need, won't use, and regret dragging around. I know I need to lighten up, and so while some people preach their New Year's resolve to lose weight, fast, quit their job, or learn guitar -- I've resolved to find the items I didn't use, and abandon them. Really.
If you are at all human you will see the utility of the Phrase, "It's better to have it and not use it, than not have it and need it". Everyone can isolate the wisdom in that Jargon, but I would also prefer to not have it if I've never used it. To carry things all over 'Kingdom-come' and return to say, "Oh, hey! there is that thing..." is a fixation which we could all use a bit of help with.
Of course, If you could distill down all of your necessary gear to the essentials the first go-around, then you'd be sovereign of the outdoors. "Why an Axe", you may ask? "What do you really need to bring that with for?"
Well, you make your list and I'll make mine, and I won't plead with you for what to pack, as long as nobody asks the other to carry some of their shit, and nobody starves. OK?
So, Plan your own trip with the bare essentials, albeit not so bare that you are ill-prepared -- And if you need to set upon that pile some Gummies, or some Single Origin Coffee, I won't fault you. Just don't ask me to carry your crap whilst we roam.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.