I’m not a peak bagger. I don’t care about rushing to the top of a mountain, then rushing down, all so I can check it off on my life list of hikes. I’m the same way with river trips. I realize that peak bagging, as a philosophy, is the norm in outdoor recreation. It’s a way to quantify time spent outdoors that matches-up well with our culture, which teaches that the more you do (ie. the more peaks you climb or rivers you run), the better and more productive you are. I think all of this is rubbish. I’ve met many people on the trail who felt that because they didn’t get to the top of the mountain, they had failed. That their time was wasted. What a shame.
I was out with my kids the other day at a nature center. There were a bunch of exhibits on a variety of topics; so many that spending a lot of time at any one exhibit would probably stop you from seeing them all in a single visit. I thought about the peak bagging mentality and watched as parents dragged their kids from spot to spot in an attempt to see it all. My own kids were playing in the sand, and completely happy to be doing so. We didn’t make it to all of the exhibits, but I think my kids had a good time anyway.
This isn’t to say I never climb to the top of mountains. I often do. But it isn’t the underlying theme of why I’m on the mountain in the first place. Or on the river. I’m there to be there and experience it, not to brag about what I’ve done after the fact because I’ve checked it off my list. Sometimes this means to travel fast and light and get to the top. Other times it means to move slowly or not at all, spending time in a particular place.
I’m all for being goal-oriented, but the goals you orient towards should be well thought out and your own, not necessarily the obvious ones that appeal to the herd.