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The Art of Long Duration Backpacking

by Virgil Kret

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I'm the first to admit I have no monopoly on hard times. I was handed a heavy cross a long time ago, but when I look at the crosses others bear, mine seems to be made of balsa wood.

Between my harsh but precious fate and an endless line of mean and impervious people, this body of mine might have surrendered the ghost long ago, had I not been inspired to take it on long, solo backpacking trips into deep wilderness.

"Long" here is in terms of time, not miles; and "solo", if you understand the aliveness of the wilderness, is a misnomer.

I practice what I call "long duration backpacking". I have backpacked an average of a month a year for the past 20 years, starting as a blister-rubbing fool and becoming a skilled man of the wilderness.

I expect to turn 63 on August 13, and intend to be deep into a three-month hike by then. There I plan to heal the bruises and wounds of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and immerse myself into what I consider pure and endless beauty.

I probably won't hike far, perhaps a hundred miles a month, but that will be enough to take away the body fat, and make this aging body lean, hard and strong. And as I hike people generally will not see me, because I like to go where others rarely or never go, and I hate to sleep within earshot of my fellow backpackers.

While I propose long duration backpacking as a panacea, as a cure for ills and frailties of body, heart, mind and soul, I have never met another person who had the slightest interest in staying out a month or more. Some will go out for up to a week, some for two weeks, but generally, for most, beyond that lie the borders of Never-Never Land.

And that is just my point. Never-Never Land is good for you.

About the Author

Virgil Kret puts out The I.C. News Weekly Sampler.


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