Rainy day thoughts: what makes the adventure adventurous?

It's rainy outside. Grey allover. It's one of these days you're glad to be inside, possibly with a good book in your lap. I've just read a good one. Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I have to admit I had some scruples about it; a bestseller quickly transformed into a Hollywood movie. But I was wrong. The book is well-written, the story is absorbing and touching.

But there is something else. While reading a book the Pacific Crest Trail was flashing in front of my eyes in all of its beauty and – mostly: wilderness. The John Muir's wilderness of solitude and breathtaking scenery; the deserts, the mountains, the meadows, the bushes, the streams, the lakes, the views … Once in a lifetime I'd like to experience at least some hundred kilometers of more than four thousand that make the trail a really tough psychological and physical challenge.

So what defines the adventure?

Adventure goes hand in hand with nature. There are three elements that create the adventure. First, there are troubles we have to face and overcome. Second, it has to be dangerous. There's plenty of danger in nature. Third and most important: exposure. When you devote to nature there will be trouble, danger and exposure. But, further you go, the stronger and deeper is the experience. I borrowed this »definition« of the adventure from Reinhold Messner, one of the greatest mountaineers of all time, but also the passionate explorer of the places that humans usually don't visit just for fun.

I lecture about adventure tourism to the students so I'm well aware that adventure is quite a sleazy term. Someone can feel totally adventurous for doing things someone else considers just as common as driving a car. So you cannot point your finger to someone and say: You're not adventurous at all! I guess it's kind of arrogant. My mum finds most of the things I do outdoor dangerous and risky, but my perception of adventure is much more »strict«. I'd like to reach the Messner's triplet, but I'd be satisfied with far less exclusive experiences :-).

It's not that I never confront troubles, danger and exposure in nature – I do sometimes, while climbing or riding a mountain bike. But mostly I try to stay safe as much as possible. I guess it's because of that I've always admired those bold men and women that overcome their fears and step into the unknown with the huge bag full of all kinds of risks. But it's not the risk part that attracts me most. It's the unspeakable beauty and the solitude of the nature – which you usually get in the remote places with no infrastructure that ease your experience. And wilderness usually brings troubles, danger and exposure.

While some fears arising from the characteristics of the wilderness are totally reasonable (and it would be also reasonable to get some of those Bear Grylls skills to survive all kinds of misfortunes that are lurking around every bend in the wilderness), some are pretty irrational. Have you seen Deliverance? I'm sure this movie scared to death lots of »let's get adventurous in the wilderness« kind of types! (Just like Jaws succeeded to convince people all over the world that they're probably going to die in the jaws of the great white shark if they just put a finger into the ocean.)

The future will be bolder!

But I intend to be bolder in the future, step by step. After all, if I look back to who I was in my early twenties, I can say I'm much more adventurous now. Who knows what happens next :-)?

After reading Wild M. and I revived the idea of revisiting Patagonia, this time for the trekking in one of the remote Patagonia's national parks. But first we'll hike the Velebit hiking trail in Croatia; 100 kilometers long, nine days of trekking with all the supplies in the backpack, sleeping in the modest shelters on the trail. And we'll hike for couple of days in the Slovenian Alps, sleeping under the stars (or clouds) and carrying all the supplies in our backpacks. (I love sleeping outside in the mountains – but the »bedroom« has to be above the woods; all these strange voices in the dark … Nope, I'm not ready to sleep deep in the woods yet :-)! And besides, higher you go, more solitude and silence you enjoy.)

So that's what I'm dreaming about while the rain is pouring and the days are dressed in dull gray clothes. But, hey, dreaming is good :-): »If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.« Well said, Henry David Thoreau!
And some photos of what I found adventurous at the time being :-). Winter mountaineering in the Slovenian Alps (Mt. Prisojnik, 2547 m), the switch from climbing as the second one to lead climbing, falling in love with the single trails and sleeping for the first time under the stars in the mountains.

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