I’m not sure how many of you have been following the Iditarod. On March 5, 2011 the 38th running of what some consider to be “the last great race on earth” began. It is a test of man and beast to traverse nearly 1,150 miles of frozen ice and snow. Not to diminish the challenge, but with check points and food drops, much of the cache of being a wild adventure seems to have been tamed out of the race.And that got me thinking, was my hike on the Appalachian Trail just as civil and tame? I had mail drops sent to me: boxes filled with food, clothes and whatever else I though I would need? Every six to seven days, I would hike down to a road and hitch a ride into town for a hot meal, shower and sleep in something close to being considered a bed. But I did walk 2,169 miles in five-months and five days…carrying everything I would need on my back (btw the AT seems to have added a few miles since 2001). I lost close to thirty pounds and the hike took a toll on me, both mentally and physically.
Are there any great wild adventures left? Every May, someone tries to set a new record on Everest by having some unique attribute to make them the oldest, youngest or in some cases the dumbest person to summit the tallest peak on Earth.
But really, what’s left? Was William Shatner right when he first spoke those magical words in 1966, “Space: the final frontier…” Or is there still some terrestrial challenge left for mankind to conquer?
I know I have my own personal goals, climbing like climbing Mt. Ranier or having a bush plane drop me off in the Alaskan wilderness to spend two weeks hiking under the northern lights. Exploring the marvels of our amazing national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Bryce Canyons sits atop my to do list as well. I want to trek to advanced base camp at Everest and experience a season on the mountain, but these are feats that others have done before me, so while they are not “great” accomplishments for humanity, they will be for me.
Will landing on Mars be as exciting and important to the planet as the lunar landings? Or will the next set of amazing accomplishments not be feats of adventure, but breakthroughs in science and technology. Will our emancipation from fossil fuels be the next great accomplishment for humans?
I don’t know the answer, but if Facebook, with its 600 million users is valued between $50 to $65 billion (according to Forbes) and it’s only significant contribution to society is that people can be tracked down by their high school sweethearts…then I truly wonder if the age of exploration and adventure has come to an end?