Why the Outdoors?
It’s been a fantastic year—we moved to Seattle, got married, and Switchback Travel was launched. In the year ahead the website will grow even bigger and better with new countries, more content, and great features.
I will sign off for 2011 with some thoughts on the outdoors:
Why the Outdoors? Our Philosophy in Brief
It’s fair to question the sanity of those who forego life’s comforts to trudge through the wilderness, expose themselves to the elements, and sleep on unforgiving ground. The thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion when the rain won’t stop in a place that took a lot of time and effort to reach. So what is it that keeps us coming back for more?
A common misconception is that the benefits of the outdoors come from a completed goal, a distance covered, or a peak climbed. True fulfillment is not the result of one defining moment but instead the rhythm of the entire experience. As Yvonne Chouinard, a great adventurer and founder of Patagonia, said of climbing Mt. Everest: “The whole purpose of climbing something like Everest is to effect some sort of physical and spiritual gain…but if you compromise the process you're an a**hole when you start out and you're an a**hole when you get back.”
So what constitutes the rhythm? Nature invokes senses numbed by modern daily life, makes us alert, and magnifies details. Things like daylight, rises and falls in temperature, and even consumption of food and water, return gloriously to the forefront.
At the heart of it all are the primeval sights and sounds and smells of wildness. You can of course find wildness in long expeditions into deep backcountry but wildness, with its eternal value of straightforward purity, can be close in too, not far from the trailhead. Yes, the land rejuvenates us, gives us clarity, and puts us in a new and slower rhythm. Those gifts are not complicated.