I spent the beginning part of the day with the Mazamas, doing snow school and practicing some of the more technical aspects of traveling on a glacier.
The second half of the day was up in the air – I hadn’t been backpacking in the snow yet this year, so the frozen fields were calling my name.
I’d packed a bag, and had all my camping gear ready for an evening out – stove, food, fuel, all the good stuff.
But… I wasn’t sure.
My foot had been hurting me the week prior, to the point that I’d actually gone to a podiatrist to make sure it wasn’t broken or anything like that. And I was tired – I’d been burning out from work pretty intensely, so was running on a partial tank. But hey – adventures help refuel me, and the foot was feeling much better. I wasn’t sold either way, which is why I packed all the gear… but didn’t lock myself into any particular course.
As the weekend went on, though, the true path revealed itself. I had an amazing time, and was feeling happy and positive. But at the same time, I was still tired. My gear was a bit wet, my phone had died, and I felt a slight headache coming on. The weather was being concerningly inconsistant too, which always worries me when I’m heading into the back country… knowing one way or the other is always easier than uncertainty – I’m fine walking into a blizzard that I know about, but an unexpected blizzard is dangerous.
All of those things combined made the decision for me.
I wanted to go backpacking. I wanted to stay outside again, to sleep in a tent and let the wilderness recharge my batteries. I wanted the stillness and serenity that only a snowfield has, and I needed the calm of watching my stove boil water for dinner.
But more than any of that, I needed to be safe and sane. I needed to make good decisions. Because, as one of my favorite quotes goes, “The mountains don’t care about you”.
For this post, I tried to find a source to credit that quote to… and to even confirm the details of the quote. I found a few options, linked below, but it seems to be a simple old-timey generalized quote. A saying that’s so ubiquitous amount the peoples who live and travel the mountains that it’s self-evident. Which is partially why I love it so much, I think…
I made a good decision on Saturday. I stayed low-key, listened to my body and to the world around me, and headed home. I had an amazing dinner, sat by the fire, and enjoyed myself. I wasn’t quite as well recharged as I may have been from an evening in the snow, but I was also uncontestably alive and unharmed – which is quite important.
A second favorite quote of mine speaks to the opposite – while “The mountains don’t care about you” urges caution, this reminds us of the criticality of being bold, “A ship at harbor is safe… but that’s not what ships were made for”