A word for
the younger backpacker
don't want to startle you, but backpacking is not the exclusive
provence of youth. The authors of these accounts are no longer
youngsters. Barbara, my steadfast hiking companion, and I have
already climbed past the chronological topo line of retirement.
Neither of us know how many hikes we have left, which makes each
new trek especially sweet. Yet what is contained in these accounts
may still be of some interest to younger generations. What takes
the authors two or even three days to accomplish, you may wish
to attempt in a single day. But be forewarned, the faster you
hurry through the wilderness, the more you are bound to miss.
My first backpacking trip, at age 36, was an epiphany. How many
wasted years had all these uninterpreted places been biding
their time out there, promising, if not relevance, at least poignance,
waiting for me to perceive them, to embrace them, to absorb
them into my being? Twelve years later I was diagnosed with arthritis
in my right hip. When I was 58, I had a total hip replacement.
This then is a journal of backpacking before and after the total
hip replacement and how I have come to terms with age and compromise
without relinquishing the wilderness .
If you find the pace unbearably laconic, the activities too anemic,
the aspirations pathetic, you may want to print these pages out,
put them aside, and return to them in thirty or forty years when
your sinews are as brittle as old rubber bands and the blood no
longer courses so vigorously through your veins. If you
still have any interest in backpacking then.
2004-10 by Richard S. Platz,
All rights reserved