“Setting Out for the Territory Ahead”

March 15, 2017   Every year there was a trip. These small journeys had outsized meaning. I would gather Tim or Greg, my traveling partners/guides and we would plan a trip via bike, paddle, or foot. We hit the Grand Canyon, Verde Canyon, San Juan Canyon, San Juan Mountains, Bigelow Mountains, White Mountains, Blue Mountains, Green Mountains, Rangeley Lakes, Saranac Lakes, Great Lakes, and other rivers, trails, canyons, and long blue highways. Normally, the list of places yet to explore elongates. But time is no longer elastic. A destination unvisited conjures a sense of loss. It is an unfilled promise, the door not opened, a memory not captured. Time to cut off this hydra’s head.

The idea is to plan a small adventure each month. There will be no epics, just something rich in meaning and imagery with potential for sustaining memories. The strategy is immersion not schedule. Yes, there will be a physical push. I will be self-powered, often by myself, and in wild places. But it is more an exercise in revealed emotions and stored memories. In Friday Night Lights, Coach Taylor exhorted his team with the mantra “Full heart, clear eyes. Can’t lose”. Sounds like the right idea, my heart will be full, eyes will be clear, and body will be tired. But in the end, I will have a sense of completion. Memories of these journeys will hold dominion over the possibility of future regrets.

It is April, the planning month. Tim and I are thinking Vermont by gravel bike. An Adirondack canoe solo sounds good. I’m in Northern Idaho for Lyndsay’s 40th so mountain-biking nearby Montana is plausible. Greg and I are discussing sailing Lake Michigan. (Allison vetoed a San Juan River trip. This probably saved two lives and much aggravation for the Search and Rescue folks.) It is also a false spring. The promise of airy warmth is beaten down by days of rolling gray cold. Still, time to get moving. Best to start local, Vermont by bikepack. An easy three-day trip will shake down gear and legs while taking in some great scenery. And it was easy to pre-run the framework via car. On this small journey of exploration, Allison advanced an interest in joining up. Hell, yeah, let’s do it. Together.

Out of apprehension, love or curiosity, Allison signs on. This will be the first chapter in my Journey of No Regrets. And it feels more than right to have Allison alongside. There will be bugs. And spills, perhaps with blood. There are hills to climb and stones to sleep on. Complaining and f-bombs are likely. All good, this is her journey too.

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