Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Went Hiking With My Cell Phone

At Delphi, the historical residence of the oracle of Apollo, there is an inscription: "Moderation in all things." With that in mind, I went hiking today with my cell phone and it wasn't that bad.

The trail was icy from the past week of snow and ice storms. Snow patches were rarely deeper then a foot and it was nice to see the white stuff again. Yesterday's storm was still lingering in the high peaks. An alchemy of cloud, light, and stone.  I was using my phone as my camera and still had a signal. I cant do it often, so I shared the moments with friends as I saved them for myself.  I even made a few jokes, about the frost being "Hoar"ifing, and the worst:

The short hike ended in a small slot up Pine Canyon called Devils Hall. Taking a picture of the geology I noticed my signal was gone. Briefly, I regretted not being able to share it, but instead I stopped to hear the silence. A gust of wind rushed through the narrow passage and then it was still again. I was alone. There was no one else in the park and I felt it. It was a good feeling to have again. Shared experience means something but there is beauty in isolation.  I brewed a cup of tea.

I back tracked to the trailhead and to camp. Eventually my signal returned and, again, on my photo breaks I shared my fun, in snapchats, instagram posts and facebook. 

It was a tasteful use, a "moderation" of the technology. I wasn't stumbling over rocks sending text messages while eagles soared above, and alpen glow danced on the mountain peaks. I was not aloof to my surroundings. I pretended to be the water in the dry canyon wash, rushing ever downward. I stopped for a while to watch a robin in the brush.

Rarely, do I have a signal that far in the backcountry. I was able to have my wilderness experience and to also share it for once. I enjoy the use of technology in the outdoors*, but I'm also an outdoorsman. At base, I value the experience of the natural world over the digital world. Technology augments reality, it does not make it.

You just gotta get yer head up every once in a while.


*This entire post has been done in the field. My cell phone has acted as a router connected to the computer and all of my electronics are being charged via a Goal Zero solar setup.

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