This past weekend I spent some time at the 5 Point Film Festival in Asheville. It’s basically a weekend dedicated to celebrating adventure, the outdoors, and inspiring stories. There was stuff going on all weekend, but the main events are a couple of three hour film screenings in a local theater. Each film featured some heroic figure performing heroic feats in a heroic endeavor. There were stories of paragliders attempting to fly off of the largest volcano in North America. There were highlights of rafting guides in the Grand Canyon. Some of the films were just people who are so outrageously good at what they do that a three minute reel of them mountain biking/free running/rock climbing was enough to give you shivers.
After three hours of sitting on my rear watching other people do incredible things, I started to dream of what it would be like to be the star of one of those films. To have people like Patagonia and Outdoor Research paying me to go on epic adventures with a film crew in tow. Man, what a life. As I started to talk through the dream with the friends I was with, I mentally ran through my outdoor adventure resume:
- I’m a moderate snowboarder who can handle West Virginia Black Diamonds but tends to bail out on any big jumps.
- Sometimes when I mountain bike I can go more than 50 feet without squeezing the brake levers ever so slightly to make sure that I go fast, but, ya know, not too fast.
- I have a cheap kayak that I bought from Academy Sports + Outdoors that is a little squirrelly on even the calmest waters.
- I have just enough climbing gear and knowledge to make me a liability.
- I recently went on a backpacking trip that was a little more than two miles each way and I was incredibly sore in the days following (let it be known that it was a pretty steep incline).
- This summer I went on a 22 mile run through a relatively flat, suburban part of Seattle that just about killed me.
- I spent a summer leading backpacking trips and guiding a little bit of whitewater on a river that also allows everyone from teenagers to inexperienced middle aged men guide themselves.
- I like to ride my bike around town and even to work every now and then.
- I spent 48 hours in Alaska this summer where my girlfriend kicked my tail hiking and mountain biking in some pretty spectacular places.
Okay, so I guess Patagonia won’t be knocking on my door anytime soon. I love the outdoors, and I hope that I continue dabbling in all of these things that I love to do. I’m also glad that there are people out there crushing it in incomprehensible ways. (Seriously, these people are incredible.) I don’t really think I’m settling, I think I am just coming to grips with the fact that adventure looks different for everyone. After the film and on our way to our campsite, my friends and I started to joke about what it would be like if someone decided to make an adventure film about our weekend in Asheville.
They could probably get some pretty sweet footage of us racing to Chick-fil-A that morning to get there before they stopped serving breakfast (read: chicken minis). Or they could drop in some clips of us eating pizza and playing ping pong at an Asheville pizza joint. If that didn’t give them enough to work with, they could include our frantic efforts to find a campsite near Asheville while sitting in a coffee shop. That should get the crowd engaged. Now that the plot is building, I’m sure they would jump to some good shots of us spending way too long to get a roaring fire going with the firewood that we bought from the RV park manager for 5 bucks. I’m still trying to decide if the climax of the film would be the next day when we hiked up a couple of miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell and found out that there was a parking lot and lots of tourists, or us digging into the delicious burgers at Wicked Weed back in Asheville.
In all seriousness, I think one of the coolest things about the outdoor culture is that the same people climbing the biggest mountains and riding the fastest mountain bike lines would probably also be the first to give us a high five for our adventure. Because whether we are world class athletes or lifelong dabblers, there is something extraordinary about spending time enjoying this planet and sharing memories with people that we love. So for now, I’m pretty stoked about my very average adventure.