Last week up at the mountain it rained on top of a beautiful fresh pile of 11 inches of fluffy powder. When I went to bed I had been excited to get up, gear up, and head up to Mt. Bachelor for my first day of the ski season. Reading the report in the morning dashed my hopes- all that beautiful snow was now encrusted by a lens of heavy snow.
The snow mess meant that instead of having a wonderful morning of playing in the mountains I was going to have to turn my focus back to the endless ruble pile of my own personal life maintenance. Adam and I recently returned home from a few months of work down in the Mojave, and we have stacks of mail to sort, a yard to clean up, firewood to split, map sets to edit, a kitchen remodel to plan, huge lists of projects to sew, build, create … The to do list is huge and overwhelming.
Distractions under these circumstances are welcome. I need reminders that adventures and free time exist. Following an adventure or two, watching movies about hiking, and reading books about fresh air and freedom are my remedy for feeling overwhelmed. Below I have listed 5 of my favorite books to help stoke your expedition fire and stave off the winter blues. Happy armchair adventures!
5 adventure books to get you through winter:
Rowing to Latitude, Jill Fredston
I discovered this book years before I started thru-hiking, and it planted some kind of seed that wouldn’t die. This book helped me realize that people do crazy sounding adventures- like rowing around Alaska- year after year. Jill and her husband, Doug, treat their summer adventures just as any other scheduled part of their lives. They plan, dehydrate food, and work through the winter, and row during the summer. The idea of having adventure as a built in part of existence was something I wanted to weave into my life, and this book introduced me to the why’s and how’s.
Sometimes it’s hard to find a role model with internal gonads. Arlene Blum fits the bill hook line and sinker. I really appreciate her passion for peaks, her curiosity about mountains themselves (she is a geologist), and her willingness to do things that she wanted to do despite people telling her she couldn’t.
Bill McKibben’s Long Distance
Have you ever wondered what you are physically capable of? Every day when I’m on the trail I wonder what I can do, how far I can go, what my physical limits are. As Bill McKibben dives into nordic skiing and building his body into it’s best machine, he watches his father’s physical condition disintegrate due to illness. The contrast of fitness and illness touched my heart and made me re-think strength. This book is always in the back of my mind as a reminder to use my body while I can and to never forget the importance of emotional fitness.
Jen Pharr is a badass. This book is about her first thru-hike, way before she set the unsupported Appalachian Trail record. She does a great job of describing those first awkward steps as a thru-hiker- like not knowing what to do with all that gross mack-n-cheese you can’t choke down and how to shake a pink blazer. I felt like I was hiking along with her, and it actually made me nostalgic for the Appalachian Trail, which was the hardest thru-hike of my triple crown. If you just read Wild and are feeling inspired to hit the trail, this is a great read that will help you navigate some of the growing pains of trail life.
Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
Back in college I loved long road trips, climbing peaks, and the idea of big adventures. The Dharma Bums took me on a great adventure that is completely unlike anything I will ever do. I do not plan on living in San Francisco, road tripping while tripping, participating in yabyum sessions, or being a beat poet… but it sure was fun to read about! The thing that struck me about this book was that the adventures I would never have intertwined so well with the ones I do have. The Dharma Bums head to the mountains and have poignant adventures in the Sierras. Japhy Ryder, Gary Snyder’s character in the book inspired me to to climb the Matterhorn in northern Yosemite, so I created a hiking route in his honor that visits the granite summit.Check out the Japhy Ryder Route