I’ve long held the belief that if you pursue what you are passionate about, good things will happen. I’ve always loved the outdoors, hiking and exploring, photography and writing. And those things have always had their own intrinsic reward. Simply getting out and being in nature, photographing a sunset or a slot canyon, has been rewarding enough by itself that if I spent my life on that, I would be happy and feel like I had a life well spent.

Finding what you love doing might just be your most important job here on earth. If you love what you do, regardless of your bank account, you are a rich man.

BACKPACKER magSo to have an opportunity like what just presented itself, well, it just feels like an extra special blessing on top of all the other things I am grateful for.

I recently received some exciting news. BACKPACKER Magazine has selected me to be one of their four new gear testers for 2014. I will also be working with them at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City.

Hundreds of outdoor companies will be represented at the Outdoor Retailer show. I will be there reporting on what’s new and exciting in the Outdoor industry and writing several pieces per day for BACKPACKER’s online outlets.

This is a big deal for me personally, as I have for years considered BACKPACKER to be in my “top 3″ magazines I want to contribute to (the other two are OUTSIDE and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC). I can’t wait to get up to Salt Lake and be working alongside several editors and other gear testers for BACKPACKER.

Be sure to follow along January 21-25 as I’ll be posting stuff daily about what’s going on at the OR show!

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video pitch I put together for BACKPACKER that won me a spot.

 

Backpacker Magazine Gear Tester from Eric Hanson on Vimeo.

 

A Muddy Thanksgiving

December 3, 2013 — 5 Comments

When many people were at home with their families for Thanksgiving, watching football, eating turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and pie, I was camping amidst the red rocks of Utah. I was working for ten straight days in the wilderness. I was already disappointed to be working over Thanksgiving, but what made it worse was that a massive storm walloped us for three days. This was a doozy of a storm too.

With air temperatures around 38 degrees, the wind was howling, blowing rain sideways and destroying our tarp shelters. Trying to staying dry, or warm for that matter, was futile. Not only were we cold and wet, but the loose red earth quickly turned into a muddy soup. Anywhere I stepped my boots sank deep into the mud. I was miserable.
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In Between

November 20, 2013 — 6 Comments

I’m having one of those deep mornings. The kind where all I’ve been doing is sitting by my fireplace, wrapped in a blanket, going back and forth between reading and thinking. I’m reading Jeff Goins latest book, The In-Between, and all I can say is that it is resonating with me. It’s a quiet, simple book. But it’s beautiful. It’s like sitting in a meadow, watching the leaves on an aspen tree shake in the breeze.

The book has me thinking about all sorts of things. It has stirred the desire to travel again and got me inspired to write more. But more importantly, the book is resetting my contentment. And, halfway through the book (in the middle as it would have it), I think that sense of contentment, peace, and appreciation, is really what the book is about.

photo courtesy of hlkljgk at Creative Commons

photo courtesy of hlkljgk at Creative Commons

I work a funky schedule; eight days on, six days off. I work eight days straight, backpacking in the wilderness with young adults. Then I’m back in the front country for six days, where I continue to work more as a writer and photographer. I love the schedule, but I often feel like it’s never enough as I struggle to cram everything in. In my pursuit of writing as a way of life, I never seem to blog enough, to make enough progress on my novel, to connect with enough people through social media who may or may not care about what I write.

It’s frustrating, bouncing between two lives. In one life, I am engulfed in the wilderness, cut off from everything but the elements as they surround me. The only things that matter are keeping the kids safe, keeping my sanity, and eating a hot meal by the fire. And in the other, I am continually striving, clawing at this slippery climb towards my goals and my dreams and feeling like I’m just not getting there fast enough.

And then, on a day like today, I am reminded of the quiet pleasure of simply being content, breathing slowly and drinking in my surroundings. Of saying thank you and appreciating the moment, right here in the middle of life.

It won’t ever be good enough, I won’t be satisfied if I’m always looking to the next thing. If I keep looking at the horizon, checking my watch and complaining that its not getting here fast enough.

I am reminded to be thankful, right here on this slow morning. I can appreciate the quietness of life. I can appreciate this moment as I sit by the fire in my pajamas. Tomorrow I head into the wilderness for a long week of cold weather. And if I choose, I can appreciate that too. I can appreciate the blustery winter weather and be thankful for my tarp shelter, my puffy jacket, and my sleeping bag as they keep me warm, and keep me alive. I can choose to appreciate the simplicity, and even the harshness, of life in the wilderness.

Sometimes life is simple, sometimes harsh, sometimes quiet, and sometimes wild. And in between all that is where we find ourselves daily. And in the middle of all that, I thank Jeff for the reminder to embrace it.

It’s Gonna Cost You

November 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

“Dammit.” I thought as I shivered. “Why is this kid being so stubborn. Why won’t he just help himself?”

The dull light of my headlamp cast a weak light on our camp. A half moon shone above providing enough light for me to turn off my headlamp altogether. I was waiting. Waiting for this kid to do the simplest of tasks, something that could be done in less than ten seconds. Yet here he sat in the darkness, unwilling to help himself even in the most basic of ways.

This was his thing, to wait people out until they couldn’t take it anymore. Then they’d give up on him and he’d “win” by not having to do the thing he didn’t want to do. Yet every one of his “wins” reinforced his destructive habits, and reinforced why he was now in wilderness therapy.
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The Importance of Struggle

October 31, 2013 — 7 Comments

I hate conflict. I hate when life is hard.

As a culture we spend a lot of energy trying to make life easier, daydreaming of the times when we won’t have to go to work, yearning for all of life to fall into fairytale ease.

Yet life doesn’t work like that. And for good reason. We need conflict. We need difficulty in our lives. We need to go through challenges.

We don’t change when life is easy. We change through conflict.
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