Today I was transferring a large number of packing peanuts from a box to a garbage bag. You know when you’re doing something, and part of you wonders if it will actually come to an end? There were so many peanuts – I started to feel like I was gathering grains of rice. It’s silly, but I had to tell myself, “Just keep going.”
This phrase, concept, and motivation is one that I treasure as a lesson I learned on my 40-day, 40-night backcountry expedition last summer. I and my teammates went with instructors from Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries into the wilderness of the Wind River Range. We were mountaineering with technical tools, like crampons and ice axes, in technical conditions like crevasse and bergschrund areas. (See mountaineering vocabulary.)
On glaciers I had an instructor and two teammates ahead of me, one teammate behind me, and we were all connected by the common vein of a rope. I had to make each step balance between walking fast enough to not be pulled by Andy ahead of me, and in step enough to not pull Tommy, who was behind me. To stop walking altogether simply wasn’t an option. We were one unit, moving together, pushing through the discomfort of heavy packs and fatigued muscles.
Back in the frontcountry, I don’t have teammates depending on me, and I’m not racing the clock to set camp before dark, cold, and bad weather set in. Here, though I’m sitting on a couch instead of rappelling or teeter-tottering on talus, I continue to be changed by what I learned in the backcountry. “Just keep going.”