I will never, ever, tire of going new places. Or at least, I sure hope I don’t.
This fact led me to my Spring Break choice for this year: Big Bend National Park, Texas.
I mean, it’s a little fun and a little ridiculous to strap a week’s worth of stuff to your back and go sleep in the desert with three friends and five total strangers. I’ve got a backpack, I’ve got shoes, I’ve got a tent, I like camping—might as well, right? The car ride is nothing, only 30 hours, and its not like my hips were a pack-induced-blue-bruised mess the last time I did this, and my feet didn’t bleed or anything, and I can totally keep up with all of the really experienced hikers in my group. All of that is totally true.
Totally. Um. Yeah.
All of these things—overlong car rides, bruises, bleeding blisters, falling behind— I tire of rather quickly, but they are necessary evils, born from better things. Overlong and over-cramped car rides take me far, far away to shiny new places, and generate spontaneous sing-alongs, late night diner stops, and backseat card games. Not to mention the first sight of mountains after a thirty-hour car ride is boundlessly more satisfying than after a few hour drive.
Bruises, blisters, and falling behind just generally suck. Badly. They suck badly. But bruises and blisters and sore limbs only set in after a long day of hiking. Sure, the pain is rough for poor little out-of-shape me, but there’s no feeling like finally being able to shrug the pack off my shoulders and take a seat on the top of a peak, unburdened at last and stunningly rewarded.
Once in the park—no phone, no computer, no contact with the outside world. Just us the nine of us, in the desert.
Naturally, this is a trip very encouraging to writing— lots of people, lots of discomfort and beautiful views and getting lost and camp stories. And also quite naturally, if our last backpacking trip is anything to go by, there is very little opportunity for writing. There is a pretty steady routine: wake up, make breakfast, pack up, hike until the sun starts to go down, set up, make dinner, sit around the fire, sleep. There may be some time between set up and dinner to scribble a page into my baby-sized notebook, if I want to deal with everyone’s “what are you writing?” and attempts to snatch it away.
Can I spare the pittance of weight that a notebook would cost me? Am I even going to want to write at all over spring break, when the week leading up to it is demanding me complete three major, long-term writing assignments?
Gut reaction: NOOOO!
But this backpacking trip means a myriad of things I’ll never tire of, things that deserve at least a short jot in my baby 4×3 inch notebook, just so they don’t get lost in the draining slow running desert hours, foot pain, and freeze-dried food:
The sunset over the mountains. Group pictures. The sound of a crackling campfire. Clear, starry skies. Rapid bonding and meaningful conversations with near strangers. Hikes. Going new places.