Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote that “adventure is a sign of incompetence.” But if it isn’t for adventure, why do people do the things they do? I’m with Stefansson on adventure. It implies that you’re not prepared for what you face, which, in the case of living a life outdoors, should never be the case. I know numerous guides and experienced woodsmen who will never be featured in the media, but whose skills and experience dwarf those of the tv experts. They don’t have adventures, they simply live their lives outdoors. For someone who has spent hundreds of nights in makeshift shelters far from town, it’s nearly impossible to have a survival crisis. Even if something unplanned happened, such as a cold-water immersion, it isn’t a crisis. It’s simply dealt with. It’s another night in a shelter in front of the fire.
This is the attitude we work to instill in our programs. The only way I’ve found to be able to do so is by providing field-based experience.
One of the guys on our recent winter trip brought a copy of The Snow Walker’s Companion, 3rd edition. I’d read an older version, but this one had some new content including a great journal from one of the authors’ extended winter trips in Quebec and Labrador. One of the lines jumped out at me:
I don’t do trips for the adventure, rather the romance. Adventure suggests not enough forethought to keep you from them. Romance, however, engages one’s mind, heart and the landscape. – Alexandra Conover