I’ve always dreaded the schedule of a 9-5, there’s something about it that my being just rejects. I’ve come to think it’s less the schedule, more the feeling of being controlled by some unseen force. Mythical hours set by bosses, or clients, or maybe just our own expectations. Hours we commit to even if they yield nothing but a paycheck. I’ve worked a few 70 hour weeks before, but even those moments felt better than the ones ruled by being in and out exactly on time every day. Yet here I am. Clocking in and clocking out, working for the weekend.
Ah, the weekend! The 28.5% of your life dedicated solely to your own hopes, passions, and ambitions. Oh, and the yard work, the housework, and making good on all those familial obligations you made. Let’s face it, modern living leaves us little time for adventure…or does it?
Like most people, I’ve been waging this ideological battle between responsibility and freedom since I graduated college and truly learned the meaning of debt. Reading about year long adventures through the Americas or just month long jaunts to a foreign coast make me question all these bills and repetitive days at the 9-5. After a few months of not being able to escape into a tent for the weekend I decided to ignore all those chore reminders. I got out of my head and asked a couple of guys to escape the city with me.
We planned nothing over the top, just a little trip through the Washington backcountry in a beat up Land Rover that is always in need of some love (remember all the work and chores stealing my free time?). So we left early Saturday and just drove. I think the moment we got off-highway there was a little sigh of relief and an immediate appreciation for the situation we found ourselves in. We quickly climbed in elevation and took our first off-route side trip to cross an underwhelming puddle. Laughter followed. Laughter that continued until we found ourselves mountainside, peering through fog and a beautiful April snowfall to make out the faint outline of valley pines. It was classic Pacific Northwest and we were captivated.
We kept on, getting distracted by side routes that our map convinced us were interesting. It wasn’t wrong. We even drove the Rover through its first creek, only to get stuck on a muddy shore for a little bit. High-fiving after making it through feats that would make most off-roaders chuckle. It was at about 4200 feet that the beauty of the the trail became astounding. Untouched snow coated everything in sight, we felt like kids lost in a winter wonderland, waiting for a reindeer to greet us around the next turn. We weren’t so lucky.
Sadly, what greeted us was a fallen tree; one too old and too massive for us to even contemplate moving or circumventing. Our onward progress was halted. A few more jokes were made and we decided to drop some elevation to avoid camping on frozen ground. We found an offshoot, setup camp, made the obligatory hotdogs, and passed out after making fun of one another just a little bit more.
Sunday came too quick, but was filled with renewed wonder as we had clear skies and were able to see the landscape that was obscured by clouds and fog the day before. The trip home was great, but I know we all felt a little anxiety as we met pavement again and began to feel the heat of the city. Too soon would we have to face the reality of Monday.
Fast forward a few days and here I am, sitting at my desk with the weekend behind me. Still wondering how I can get out of working five days a week, still talking about the treasures of my weekend, still dreaming about that year long trip I want to take down to South America. But for now I’ve re-learned a lesson. A simple fact that I lost somewhere between worrying about health insurance and a savings account. The weekend is mine and my weekend adventure can be just as exhilarating as that eight month long trek you just read about. I just have to remember to clean out the garage before Saturday.
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All of us at Expedition Portal have a genuine appreciation for the weekend escape. Those little sorties into the backcountry to get away from the daily grind keep us balanced and sane.
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