Just before Jen and I were married, my friend Garrett suggested we put together a final bachelor adventure. We settled on an adventure to find this Pachamama in the Peruvian Salcantay Pass to Machu Picchu.
Dwight Eisenhower couldn’t have scheduled this outing with more specificity. We planned for months. Obsessed over every conceivable detail. Got stuck with more vaccines than I did on my way to Bagdad, Iraq. We spent A LOT of time thinking about gear.
Packs, base layers, shells, tents, poles, crampons, boots, space food, hydration systems, first aid, socks…on and on. All said-and-done we were in for well over $1,500. We looked like North Face and Patagonia made love on the summit of Mount Everest and gave birth to two fully clothed twenty-five year old men. Like we got in a fight with REI and won.
So there we were (all thousand pounds of us) on the side of a mountain in Peru. Making peace with the paper-thin alpine air, we trekked with crushing headaches to near exhaustion. We were proud. I can still remember the feeling. We were as proud of our effort as grown men can be…
And then, all at once, our ballooned egos were deflated. Crushed under the undiscriminating weight of reality as we saw a four-foot five-inch woman, every bit of sixty, hiking our very same trail while leading a leashed donkey, carrying an infant child in a simple sling, and wearing sandals hastily made from what I think was twine and used motorcycle tires.
You probably need…essentially nothing.
You go into the mountains to discover your own insignificance. You go to feel immersed. Inseparable. Why in the hell had I spent so much time, energy, effort, and money insulating myself?
My eye has been critical, perhaps overly so, of outdoor equipment ever since. I’d like to think we can all be “trail minimalists.” Folks in uniform have a name for people obsessed with loading themselves down with psuedo-useful gadgets. We call ’em Geardos. You can look it up. It’s in Urban Dictionary. I don’t think we need to be that guy.
Now as a parent, “kit” inevitably creeps back into our lives. Parenting is tough work, and just like the Super ISOFlex 6000 workout machine you wish would effortlessly steal back belly weight… I think we pin our hopes to the newest “parenting gadget” to steal back a few moments of relative peace. Suckers for what might bring us a moment’s sanity.
Seems to me that a few of them work but, most of ‘em don’t.
While sharing our family’s sojourn into our National Parks, we’ll spend some time talking about the gear we use. What we can and can’t live without, probably don’t need but is just fun to have, and everything in between. We’ll write honestly, if not sensitively. Just ground truth. Stuff we’ve tried.
We like gear to keep us in the moment. The stuff which lets us focus on one another, our children, the wilderness. To think about them without thinking about some irritating-as-hell lower back pain or heel spur.
To buy or not to buy?
Whatever simultaneously gets you closer to the wild and farther from a Darwin Award.
For me that about answers the question. After all, OUNCES = POUNDS…or kilograms I suppose…depending on where you’re reading this.
P.S. Yes, we think the little old lady was Pachamama. And if it ain’t true…it oughta be.