Bring on the anti-gravity backpacks

  Gail Binkly’s memories of hiking in the “good old days” (for her, the 1980s) ring a lot of bells (HCN, 8/4/03: When did we become such gear-toting wimps?). But does she really prefer those heavy boots made of solid rock and worn jeans that stayed wet for three days after a downpour? How she got 20 years of use from a cheap dome tent is truly a marvel, but she has forgotten what a new-gear revelation it was when she bought it. If she had slept in a tube tent and then an A-frame in the early ’70s, she might not think the dome such an ancient stalwart. Of course, all John Muir had was a tall Sierra tree and a blanket to sleep under. Now there’s “good old days” for you.

She conjures up the spirit of Edward Abbey, who must be doing cartwheels in his grave to think that he has become the outdoors standard-bearer against which everybody must compare. I don’t think it would have mattered much to Abbey whether or not he tramped around in jeans and heavy boots or nylon convertibles and all-terrain hiking shoes. Despite a published opinion on mechanical gadgets separating a “man from the world around him,” he depended on them just like the rest of us. An internal combustion engine got him to the trailhead, cameras took his photographs, bridles and other devices kept him firmly atop any horse and a stove kept his trailer warm in the winter, without which there would have been no Desert Solitaire.

Like Binkly, I too have had “some of the richest times of my life with some of the cheapest equipment,” but I was once younger than today. I still take my Luddite soul and middle-aged body backpacking. As I ponder the crowds and the ongoing challenge of locating solitude in the wild, that aging body appreciates better boots, dry pants, secure shelter, pure water that doesn’t make it sick, Thermarest pads and Crazy Creek chairs. I was once a trail-head Ned-Ludd purist sitting atop my own high horse, but, to paraphrase another acerbic American cynic, the times they are still a-changin’. I hope that when I’m finally in my dotage, there are still wild places to visit and anti-gravity backpacks to strap onto my faltering frame.

Evan Cantor
Boulder, Colorado
High Country News Classifieds
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR
    The Development and Marketing Director is a senior position responsible for the execution of all development and marketing strategies to raise funds and increase public...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Coordinates all Wyoming Wildlife Federation philanthropic activities. Tasks include identification, recruitment, and retention of donors, organizing fundraising events, and assisting with grant writing.
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • CORPORATE & GRANTS PARTNER MANAGER
    Forever Our Rivers Foundation Corporate Partnerships Manager February 2020 www.ForeverOurRivers.org Forever Our Rivers Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was formed in late 2016 with the mission...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year-round outdoor living. REDUCED to $999,000, 575-536-3109.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.