Feb 20, 2008 at 1:19 am #1227378Feb 20, 2008 at 2:25 am #1421211
I take my hat of to you… it sounds brilliant… if only I could convince my boss to give me 3mths holiday a year I'd be there … or is that part of the problem?!Feb 20, 2008 at 5:13 am #1421222
A great article, reflecting the importance of not rushing through the countryside to get to the destination. Of recent times I have begun to recognise that if I have a pre planned route then I tend to take less time with the surroundings. Being able to "wander" in the general direction of your destination is a much better option.
Simon I am intrigued by the shelter in the Yorkshire photo, which I assume is sheltering behind a rather large building because of the wind?
ThanksFeb 20, 2008 at 6:07 am #1421226
@mysticmooseLocale: Great Lakes region
It seems to me that too much of the focus of ultralite backpacking is on carrying less so that you can go farther and faster. Since I've lightened up, I haven't travelled much farther in a day that I would have before; I just enjoy the trip more and arrive in camp less exhausted. I stop frequently for breaks to take photos or just to sit in a beautiful spot. I can take small hikes away from camp since I have energy left over.
I don't think that speed, in itself, should ever be the goal in backpacking. The folks who are in such a hurry that they urinate while hiking are missing the point, I believe. Can you really enjoy yourself if you can't even stop to pee? How can you possibly take in the sights and sounds? I suppose to each their own, but I really feel like those folks are missing something. To me, the purpose of going into the woods is to get away from the "rat race" of society, not take it with me!Feb 20, 2008 at 6:56 am #1421232
I think we can blame Ray Jardine for the UL == "farther and faster" mantra (it was all over his book). But for a thru-hike it sort of makes sense. But not all UL hikers are thru-hikers.
Unfortunately, the "farther and faster" message seems to overshadow all the other benefits of UL hiking (taking more camera gear? fishing fear? better food? "easier" hiking experience, etc.). The message "turns off" many folks when you tell them you are a UL hiker. "I like to take my time and 'smell the roses' when I hike." Who says I don't do that? Would you rather carry 40# while smelling or 20#? "But I like my comforts in camp." I have a fully enclosed shelter and use a air pad. "Oh?!!?" This community definately has the wrong "public" image.
About 2 years ago GoLite had a 3 part ad campaign on the back of BP'r in which they tried to sell "light and slow" hiking. I doubt it ever caught on, but I wish it would.
I suspect when most non-UL hikers think of UL hiking the first ideas that come to mind are "fast", "pain" and "not smelling the roses" (as if somehow UL hikers can't see, hear or smell while they hike). If the UL community finds someway to rid themselves of those negative images, our techniques would be far acceptable and endorsed.Feb 20, 2008 at 7:01 am #1421234
@donhorstLocale: Sierra Nevada
Growing old and out of shape, I have no alternative to slow backpacking, but I have always appreciated this approach. I thoroughly enjoyed the article. It is insightful and well written.
[Editorial note for future revisions: in the fifth paragraph it should be, "…entire load of my partner and ME." Sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves related to the current trashing of the English language.]
DonFeb 20, 2008 at 8:50 am #1421246
@pkhLocale: Nova Scotia
A well written, thought provoking article.
CheersFeb 20, 2008 at 9:16 am #1421248
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Thank you Simon for taking the time to write such an insightful piece. I remember first reading Basho nearly forty years ago; that was after I read Thoreau. Their ideas and sensibilities definitely colored my outlook on the world, and I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the twentieth century. Still not fully there. Anyway, when I first came to UL and read the exploits of fastpackers here on BPL, I had to ask myself "why are they doing that?" Seems to me that they were missing out on the moment.Feb 20, 2008 at 10:21 am #1421263
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
"Light and slow" pretty much sums it up for my wife and me (not "I", as Don notes). My body starts complaining after too many miles, and I don't recover nearly as fast as twenty years ago.
I sure wish I had that kind of time, though…I figure the AT and PCT is out of the question until I retire.Feb 20, 2008 at 2:29 pm #1421303
So much wisdom at such a young age! Also, very "dangerous" reading for me (he-he).
I wouldn't assign exclusive blame (or credit) for the emphasis on the fast in fast&light to Ray Jardine. Light strikes a chord with adventure racers, JMT speed record seekers, "alpine style" mountaineers, folks with short available time and all folks feeling a desire for speed.
The rest of us can smile knowingly and enjoy the snail's pace less burdened by pack weight. Myself, I can read or not read the discussions about speed as I see fit and still benefit from discussions about weight savings without feeling like I'm in the wrong place.
Doesn't hurt at all to occasionally point out that there's more than one reason to lighten up though.Feb 20, 2008 at 10:41 pm #1421381
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
What a great read. Thanks to Don and Simon for bringing this article to BPL.
I reached the end feeling refreshed, and wanting to experience what Simon clearly feels is the pleasantness of the journey.
My hat's off to Simon for an inspiring and thoughtful view of backpacking light.
This article made me think that sometimes, light and fast actually make for a pretty tenuous relationship.Feb 20, 2008 at 10:51 pm #1421383
@rglessLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Nice article. I'm convinced the only reason my wife and I can still go backpacking is that our base weight has evolved from about 35 lbs to about 8 lbs. At one point most of the UL sites I looked at were maintained by the 50 plus age group. I can still do what I used to, I just carry a lot less.Feb 21, 2008 at 4:38 am #1421392
@arichardson6Locale: North East
A really great article! As said, it was very refreshing and inspiring. I've always believed in hiking nice and slow and though I hike slow naturally, I don't know if I've done it with this kind of attitude. No map, no tent, etc… That would make all the difference. This definitely seems like it would be my favorite way to travel and I can't wait to try it out!
Thanks Simon!Feb 21, 2008 at 6:59 pm #1421487
@markhurdLocale: South Texas
Twenty-five years ago two hiking buddies and I christened ourselves "The Slow Brothers" because we were always passed on the trail by the swifter hikers. It is not that we didn't want to move more quickly, we were just carrying so much junk that we couldn't go any faster. With 40-50 lb packs it is hard to speed down the trail.
Now we are all older and maybe a tiny bit wiser. Our packs weigh a third of what they used to and we could go faster, but we are still "The Slow Brothers." We take our time to listen and to look and to reflect. We have discovered that snippet of eastern philosophy that says "the journey is the reward" and after 25 years we have begun to understand it. Being slow just makes it easier.
-MarkFeb 22, 2008 at 11:02 am #1421575
Once one has acquired the ability to move swiftly, you are then afforded the choice – the freedom – to travel at whatever pace you fancy at the moment.
Upon reaching the mountain top, you will gain a perspective never availed to those that solely frequent the low places. And once off of that peak, the memory can forever be savored.
Nice article. Interesting writing.
dFeb 23, 2008 at 10:21 am #1421710
I see I'm not the only Greg here with a Mal.
Edit: Now I see the blue eyes so maybe it is a Siberian?Feb 26, 2008 at 6:07 pm #1422176
@james-cowderyLocale: Central Florida
My life is fast. Often times it is too fast.
Like Diana lightweight backpacking is about being more comfortable allowing me to enjoy my hikes. I have a medical condition that will cause me to go blind suddenly and without notice. I treasure each of my hikes as if they may be my last. When I summit that mountain or come to a vista I stop and burn that image in my memory so I can replay it at any time.
Fastpacking may be for some but I am and will continue to be an "Ultralight slow-packer."
Thanks for the article….
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