Epic...or not

posted Feb 10, 2013, 9:31 PM by Paul Wagner
We've been getting a lot of email from people who are hoping to take off this summer for an adventure.  And the word they often use is "epic,."  What they want is that one lifetime adventure that somehow give them credibility--a story for the ages--a transcendent experience that will transport them above.  It might not come as a surprise to you to learn that most of these people are younger.
Yvon Chouinard once said "It's not an adventure until something goes wrong."  And we like that thought.  We never set out for an adventure.  We do set out to have a wonderful time in the mountains, but never with the idea that we're hoping to make it out alive.  If we are not dead certain that we are going to come out alive (more than alive--really happy and comfortable) we won't go.  Or we'll change our plans.  We're not interested in epic.  We're interested in fun.
We often find backpackers who are interested in doing these "epic" hikes aren't really sure what they will do next.  It's as if they think that doing one "epic" hike with either cure them forever, or answer any questions they might have.  Been there, done that.  And now they'll move on to other activities.  After all, what else is there after "epic?"
(We once met a charming young woman on the trail to North Dome in Yosemite who announced to all:  "Well, that's it.  I've done all the trails in Yosemite."  We didn't believe her.  She was in her early twenties, and we're pretty sure she didn't even KNOW all the trails that you could take in Yosemite...)
In fact, we would suggest that there are more wonderful hikes in these mountains that you can ever complete, and even if you did, there are still hundreds that you would want to do again.  And while we understand the idea of going boldly where no man has gone before, we also think that the best part of backpacking is not the struggle of man (or woman) against nature.
The best part is the pure enjoyment of being the mountains and in touch with nature in a way that is impossible just about anywhere else.  And that enjoyment brings peace, calm, and...yes, joy.  Maybe not so much adventure.
That's not exactly the way we would define epic.  But we're not young anymore, and we're not looking to impress people with how many days and how many miles.  Don't hike to impress people.  Hike because you love it.  The rest will take care of itself.
We're just collecting great memories together.  And you can't have too many of those.