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Giant Packs Are What You Take Walking On The Moon
It's No Longer What I Take!
“Bikes fit too if we shove the skis over!” Such was the common refrain back when I had plenty of nuclear fuel rods. I still have a few left as of now, though with each birthday that passes, it seems that I’ve got one fewer. But back then, somehow I must have known that by the time I was in my 50s, if I ever survived that long, that the extra organ I was born with would start to shut down. My little nuclear power plant would be decommissioned bit-by-bit.
Bringing bikes as bonus toys on a ski mountaineering trip would more than double the fun factor; why not throw them in too? Especially after a work week stuck behind the desk. How hard it was for me to sit still in my office behind a computer without bouncing my leg, rapping my pencil on the desk, and playing with all the various contraptions I could get my hands on. Binder clips, rubber bands, and paper clips, watch out! Here I come.
Another outing coming up this weekend or vacation? Bring all the toys just in case. Larger were the backpacks and their empty spaces for bigger trips. Launches to the moon? Bring it all. We don’t know what the conditions will be like when we finally get there. How about bringing our ice axes, crampons, and full shank mountaineering boots as we hike the Muir Trail so we can bag some peaks on our way down!
So fun to look back on these times but it does make me tired just thinking about it all. Now, chill time is revered. Breaks are welcome. How about we just sit down and do nothing for the rest of the day? Sounds great! Let’s plop that chair right down on the edge of this moon crater and just soak up the view. Is that a moon rover down there?
New patterns are emerging and are surely signs that my power plant’s being retooled to renewables. Recharge. Pack. Rest. Play. Chill. Play. Eat. Talk. Unpack. Ahhhhhhhhhh…I love the new pace! Detest is too strong of a word, but it’s close to how I now feel about big packing lists, piles of gear, complicated logistics, and constant handling and reshuffling of stuff.
After one particularly loaded trip with one of my all time best buds, Wes, to ski, bike, and hike one weekend on the affectionately named “East Side” of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, I stumbled across a book that changed my life. With a title like Life Nomadic, it seemingly pulled itself right off the bookshelf and vaulted into my hands. “Open me!” it emphatically proclaimed. “I’m written for guys like you!”
The author, Tynan, decided one day to put all his stuff up on Craigslist. Yes, I said “all.” Everything. Except for his computer, change of clothes, toothbrush, laptop, and a few more essential items which he stuffed into a small backpack. With everything else sucked out into the vacuum of space, off he went to explore the planet with not a care in the universe, for years! How elegantly simple! Adventurous too! And best of all, no heaps of gear to stuff, juggle, and manage. Balls and chains be gone!
Frantically mopping up behind my salivary glands, my thoughts immediately jumped to all the practicalities. How is an old guy like me with a family, mortgage, car payments, and a lifetime worth of accumulated stuff supposed to do that? Easy for a young kid with nothing, but not so easy for me. Maybe I can bend reality a bit? Go against convention? Swim upstream for a mile or two? Yup, I do it all the time. Tynan’s tagline “you have more options when you’re weird” fits me perfectly! So I tweaked it all a bit and made it my own.
Andy’s reaction when I showed up to his house in San Francisco on our way to Hong Kong with just a school-sized backpack was worth its weight in gold. No, worth its weight in feathers. “Where’s your stuff? Is that all your bringing? Are you crazy?” Yup, I am, I replied with glee as I told him all about Tynan’s book. I left the gravity boots back home. The reality of jettisoning them out the airlock never to be seen again as they made their way to Jupiter wasn’t real for my particular situation, but I thought I’d go for a moonwalk or two with the heavy boots stowed away back at the ship.
How light I felt! Did I forget to pack something critical in this tiny Tynan-sized pack? Like driving without a seatbelt, this was disconcerting…but also soooooooo nice. Wooooohooooo! Zero gravity! Nothing in tow! Look at the stars, they’re so bright! And has that little cluster of them always been there hiding away in that corner? How quickly I can change direction! It was so hard to wipe the grin off my face as I watched Andy’s amused grin form up behind the glass of his full blow moon suit towing his moon suitcases.
Having almost fully adopted Tynan’s bring next-to-nothing approach on most trips now, I still go on an occasional full fledged moonwalk with all the traditional gear but these are much fewer and far between. Going ultralight is my new frontier. Joy now stems from what can I get away with leaving behind instead of stuffing the empty corners with. Sudden pivots are easy, mobilizing and demobilizing is a snap, and it’s way easier to focus on all the fun stuff to see and do without tired shoulders and dragging along the lead weighted boots! Best of all, my little sustainable energy power plant no longer struggles. Goodbye brown-outs!
Official weigh-ins have now replaced gear handling. 10 pounds of stuff in a 20 Liter backpack is now too much for a trip overseas. For short, I call staying within this upper limit “10/20 Vision.” Do I really need to bring a jacket? Just how long can I make a travel sized toothpaste last? These are the new challenges as I look at the mounds of stuff on my bed as I pack for a trip with 10/20 Vision.
But enough talk! it’s time again to jump over the back fence. Where’s my pack? Oh, there it is hiding in the corner. So easy to overlook! See you later. But not without a big hearty thank you to Tynan! Life Nomadic changed my life unlike any other prized book that sits on my shelf.