Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Very Vague S240

This weekend I went on a sub-24-hour overnight (S240) trip with my friends Alex Wetmore and Mark Vande Kamp. We all believe in the premise that "the key to adventure is a lack of information." This doesn't mean that we don't plan or are not prepared to deal with a wide range of circumstances, but it does mean that we prefer our trips to include some element of discovery. And one of the best ways to ensure adventure is to be a bit lax in our understanding of the geography of where we are supposedly headed.

Ideally you have a hand drawn map, something sketched by a drunken man with an eye patch, who you met once in a bar in a town you stumbled into by mistake. In the absence of such a map, a vague reference from an old book is a good starting point or perhaps your uncle's recollection of a fishing spot his father told him about years ago. In any case, the lack of precision is the key element of the adventure.

In the case of this adventure, we had a lake with a funny name and Alex and I had Mark's assurance that he'd been there year's before. We actually had some kind of map, not quite drawn to scale. Since we live in an age of Google and satellites and GPS units, we figured we'd find the place. Alex had a GPS unit, a route somewhat mapped and we had Mark's memory of the location of the lake with the funny name.

I am pleased to report that there are still places in this world, places not all that far from my home, where tiny dirt roads look just like other tiny dirt roads, where the GPS tells you that you may or may not be where you think you are, where your compass tells you that the tiny bit of blue you glimpse through the trees may or may not be the lake with the funny name.

And if you are like me you will ride on these roads with your friends and it will be a beautiful warm day and you'll drink through your water and reach a point where you'll say, "I'd really just settle for a place with some drinkable water." And within a minute you hear running water and off to the right is a clearing in the trees and a clear, fast running stream and waterfall. And there are trees for Mark and Alex to hang their hammocks and plenty of space to lay out a bivy sack and twigs to fuel the kettle.

And you'll spend the evening chatting with your friends and making dinner and exploring around and debating weather or not the blue you saw earlier was in fact the lake with the funny name. And you will sleep in the dark woods and wake at dawn and see deer and make coffee and breakfast and then you will all break camp and roll around some more on roads that look just like other roads, roads that look like roads Mark is sure he saw years ago and a bit later you and your friends will each roll to your own homes, back less than 24 hours after you left.

And you'll post some pictures here:

And maybe talk a bit about the trip on your blog. But you'll keep things vague. There is no need to name the lake with the funny name, to give too many details of the campsite with the wonderful waterfall. Some roads are best when they are the roads less traveled by.

And the key to adventure is a lack of information.

Alex Wetmore's blog entry and pictures can be found here:
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