A few months back, I wrote about looking out an airplane window and seeing the dark areas of land, unlit by civilization and felt myself being imbued with the desire to discover it. There have been a few themes in my life over the past few months that have been resonating with my motivation to hike.
I was watching a game demo where the character roams around an area. In the corner of the screen is a map of the area. As the character walks into new territory, the map, and the land around him, is illuminated. I’ve been playing computer role playing games since about 1981, with Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. Other games included Phantasie, The Ultima Series, and evolved into Diablo and Baldur’s Gate.
At some point, life got too busy to continue building virtual characters and I had to get to work on my real stats.
One common theme about those games is that you don’t know what is around the next bend until you get there. The map opens up as you explore it, showing you what it looks like.
Curiosity is another theme that kept coming up recently. The founder of our company devoted his whole entertaining presentation to curiosity in the last quarterly meeting.
These themes made me think about why I hike. My primary reasons? I don’t hike to go for a stroll through meandering woods. I don’t hike to enjoy the company of a large group of people. To complete a list? No. Well, yes, sometimes these are my reasons, but not my primary reason.
My reason? To explore.
I typically go hiking to climb to the top of a mountain. I climb mountains because I am curious as to what it looks like from there. What is it like to get there? What portion of the map haven’t I been to yet? With the exception of special places, I rarely climb the same mountain more than once. This is one of these reasons why I haven’t yet led hikes for groups, although I have been asked many times.
My curiosity is satisfied once I step foot on to a peak and absorb the views for miles around. I scan the area and see other peaks I’ve climbed and others I’ve yet to climb.
My hiking is typically an exploration and often not on a maintained trail, which is why I usually hike alone. I need to be alert to concentrate on getting to the top and I can’t expect my hiking partner(s) to enjoy route-finding and bushwhacking as much as I do. OK, maybe tolerate is a better word for my feelings about bushwhacking. I often don’t know what the conditions will be like until I get there. I have to be adaptive to the environment and sometimes I don’t make it to the top. It’s all part of exploration.
Every peak I hike illuminates a dark space on the map. Someplace I’ve explored. A new place I’ve been. Why peaks? I’ll answer that question later. I have an Outdoors Bucket List on Pinterest for those who are interested in how curious I am and where I’d like to explore.
For now, there are a lot of dark spaces in Santa Barbara, and all over the world, that I’d like to illuminate.