For a writer who embraces solitude, one of the benefits of doing an extended wilderness journey alone is that you have long, uninterrupted hours to write, read, and reflect. Assuming, of course, that your travel schedule is flexible enough to allow such activities. When planning my expedition, I intentionally gave myself enough time for both side trips and “weather days.” When the weather was stormy, I could hunker down inside my wonderfully dry and spacious tent, rather than get drenched, wind-blown, and chilled. There I had the option of reading excerpts from Bob Marshall’s Alaska Wilderness (I’d actually ripped out portions of the book to save weight and space; in retrospect it was a rather silly thing to do, considering some of the other hefty items I carried in my 70-pound pack) or Loren Eiseley’s The Immense Journey , the perfect book to bring on such a trip, given its small size and enthralling essays, stories to be slowly savored and reflected upon. Or, when the spirit moved me, I would write. And remember. I did a lot of both.
- Any wilderness journey requires hard choices about what to bring and what to leave behind. What (besides fuel, food, and sufficient clothing) could you not do without? Would books be among your backpacking essentials? Which one(s)? Why?
- What are the ways that you escape the ego, become part of something greater, open up to mystery, or touch – or at least approach – the divine?
- Changing Paths discusses two different experiences of “being watched” by some larger/greater entity. One involves a judgmental God, the other the nonjudgmental – and perhaps even beneficent – world of wild nature. What are your thoughts about such experiences? Have you ever sensed a larger, nonhuman “wild intelligence” in nature?
- What role have mentors played in helping to shape your life’s path (including your career, beliefs, ethics, etc.)?
- How, if at all, do you balance/reconcile science and spiritual beliefs in your own life?