By Spencer Messer | January 14, 2015
The sun made its final move over the mountains stripping away our last bit of natural light. We were deep in the backcountry surrounded only by new friends, cold air, and darkness. At this point, the worries of daily life didn’t apply. Our focus instead, was on warmth, food, water, and community. Our primitive shelter’s only source of power was the weak, yet reliable kerosene lamps and the always finicky solar panels. Because our camp was at high elevation, hydration was vital. And our only source of water came from melting snow in a monster cast iron pot on top of a wood burning stove that looked like it was formed in a lifetime before mine. Needless to say, I have intentionally traded the comforts of my daily life for something less than comfortable. If you know where I’m going with this, go ahead and click on another article. But if you’re confused give me two minutes to explain.
I find unique contentment in uncomfortable places. It’s a level of basic joy and peace that I think we all long for and ultimately need for a balanced life.
The uncomfortable simplicity of being in the backcountry isn’t an escape from my daily life, but it’s a place to reflect and put things in perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I seek this peace in my day-to-day activities by running and spending time with the communities of people that help bring the best out of me, but out here it’s different. I don’t have to search like I do at home; it just comes over me like an overnight snowfall. I’m relaxed, worries melt away like the ice on the eaves of this hut, and the peace flows.
I realize that the indescribable beauty of the mountains and their unfailing ability to uncomfortably alter my priorities brings balance to my daily life at home. Because of this I intentionally seek time in the wilderness. Today, I’m on a four day backcountry ski trip crashing in a hut with twenty seven other people. Even better, I only knew a handful of them before we left for the trailhead. Crazily enough, through the common interest of the mountains, new friendships have formed, memories have been made, and peace has been found. Mission accomplished.
Where do you find peace? For me it is here the mountains, but I have close access so it is easy for me to get out and get lost in them. Access can be a big issue, and I know this from experience, but don’t let it stop you. And maybe you find peace in other places. It seems crazy to me, but it may be in the middle of a bustling and loud city or even in a quiet farm town. Wherever this place is, go there as often as you can. Not to run away from your life, but to reflect and put it in perspective.
This article was initially scribbled in a notebook while sitting on the front porch of the Jackal Hut, one of the 10th Mountain Division Huts in the backcountry of Colorado.