Navigating Within the Catastrophe

In my previous post I talked about “moving” within the Catastrophe. In this post I will talk about moving with a Purpose … in other words “navigating” — adding Intention to movement.

Let me begin by corrupting an old saying, and declare that “Nothing makes Mother Nature laugh so hard as when she sees a person in the wilderness with a plan”. When I bushwack (move through the wilderness without the use of human-made trails) I often get the sense that I am providing Mother Nature with great entertainment and amusement. She chuckles softly in the wind and laughs heartily in the thunder.

Navigating within the Catastrophe, South-Central Purcells 2018. Notice that the Compass is telling me that North is to the left side of the picture, and the GPS is telling me North is in the exact opposite direction.
“And Mother Nature has a good laugh”.

To navigate I must start with a Purpose. I must know where I want to get to, and Why I want to get there. In the wilderness (esp. bushwacking) there are often several different ways to get to a geographical objective, so knowing Why helps to select the most appropriate route.

As an adventurer and an explorer I have come to realize (and sometimes to relish) the fact that occasionally “getting lost” is simply the price of admission to the game. In wilderness navigation I expect mastery (a high level of skill), but I do not expect perfection.

If I never get lost, then I am not really “exploring”. To truly explore, I have to occasionally make mistakes. I have to take genuine risks, and sometimes those risks will “go against me”. That is inherent in the game. I stumble, Mother Nature laughs, and I move on. And in all of this, Sisyphus-Steve smiles (even in the midst of his mistakes) because he knows: “I am in the game!”

Sisyphus-Steve “in the game” (checking GPS, compass and map for a clue about where to turn).
Confusion in his eyes, and a smile on his face.
Banff National Park 2017

And then there are the moments when I actually find what I am looking for. Wilderness navigation can be full of internal goods of practice — little “yeses” that can build into bigger “yeses”. With an application of skill, and a certain relationship to the Catastrophe (i.e. demanding mastery and yet not expecting perfection) … things can begin to make sense, intentions can gambol into achievements.

I had made it up to the point indicated by the pink flagging tape (see black arrow) on a multiday snowshoe trip in the winter of 2019. I returned to the area in the summer of 2020 to push the route even farther.
Finding that flagging tape was “a Big Yes” for me.

The Catastrophe is filled with mistakes and disappointments, sub-optimal situations and adversity. And in spite of all this, the Catastrophe also harbours a lot of joy, a lot of YES.

I may have to work really hard to find that joy and that YES, but I think that’s what adventure is all about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: