September 10, 2021
What is the Expiration Date of Adventure?
Words & Photos by Brett Davis
It seems like in this modern age that everything has an expiration date, and that those dates are getting shorter and shorter and shorter. It used to be, so I am told, that when one bought an appliance back in the day (1940’s, 50’s, 60’s) that they could count on it lasting for more than ten years—perhaps even twenty or thirty years or more.
Recently, my mom’s state of the art Samsung washing machine expired after a mere eight years of use. Not to mention her two Frigidaire refrigerators and ice maker that went kaput in less than ten years. What happened to built to last?!
In an age where resources are quickly becoming finite and thoughtful conservation should be at the forefront of our planning for future generations, there seems to be little concern for creating anything of quality and durability. The word disposable has become synonymous with our current age. Gone are the expectations that something manufactured would last a lifetime or longer. Rather they have been replaced by fleeting, short-term aspirations. This is not to say that there are a few visionaries and companies that chose to think with a preservation mindset, but those outliers are far and few between.
Expiration dates have been on my mind a lot these days as I negotiate the current world of a pandemic virus, social unrest, isolation, economic uncertainty, etc., etc. Like many of my friends and loved ones, I find myself grasping for stability and some semblance of certainty beyond the sun rising and setting each day. One can only take so many groundhog days, before the urge for something different and greater dominates every inner thought.
For me, the thought and execution of adventure have always been a grounding aspect of my life. Don’t misunderstand me—I live with an awareness of existing in the present moment and move through my days accordingly. I also use the idea of the next adventure to motivate me to stay fit; to prioritize my actions; to sacrifice for what I value; to maintain discipline among temptation; to remain positive when faced with adversity, and to inspire me to do the uncomfortable personal work and become an improved version of myself. In so many ways, the pursuit of adventure has forged me into the being that I am today.
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, my adventure life as I know it was put on hold.
The COVID-19 virus had gained a presence in the United States. I began the day by packing for an upcoming trip to Baja to bike pack the Cape Loop with an enthusiastic group of college students. Our spring break was to be one to remember as we would share an experience that few in college have the opportunity to do. Arriving at the office, I could feel my energy and excitement for our upcoming departure begin to build. In less than 48 hours, we would be on our way.
By noon, the emails of closures and shutdowns from colleges and universities across our country were starting to flood my inbox. At two p.m., I received the dreaded call from the upper administration of my college: a travel ban had been put in place, and our trip was canceled. In fact, all on-campus classes and programming were suspended for the remainder of the academic year. Instead, the entire campus community, students, faculty, and staff would complete the year remotely via on-line means. As did everyone that day, I left campus bewildered and stunned—hoping this was all a bad dream and that I would soon wake up to my normal world.
Alas, the pandemic was a reality, with the entire globe coming to a halt. Not only had my work adventures been canceled, but my personal aspirations were squelched as well. My odyssey to ride the famed San Juan Skyway and ski as many big lines as possible has been chronicled in numerous places. This trip was conceived ten years prior as I became familiar with my new home in the rugged and stunning San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. For one reason or another, my Skyway adventure remained just that–a dream. The year prior in 2019, after a mere four glorious days, the Skyway trip came to a sudden and bone-crushing halt, as I went down on my bike after hitting some black ice. The ensuing three-day hospital stay followed by 15 weeks of healing, gave me plenty of time to plan and think about the spring of 2020 attempt.
Upon promptly returning from Baja, my partner and I were scheduled to begin riding north from Durango with all of our ski mountaineering and camping equipment. Over the course of 18 days, we planned to ski and bike our away through the San Juan’s. Unlike the previous year, the snowpack was stable, and the weather conditions were prime for the success of such a trip. But, with state stay at home orders issued and the closure of various counties through which we would travel, our trip returned to its prolonged dream status.
This brings us to the title of this post: What is the expiration date of Adventure? Unless you are someone who lives in a world of chasing and acquiring “firsts,” then I would argue that there are very few occasions where adventure has an expiration date. Granted, certain adventures may be compromised by the building of a dam or some human political actions which disrupt the status of the environment, but these instances are rare. Additionally, one’s age and consequent physical status may preclude the ability to pursue certain adventures. For the most part, however, adventure cannot be stamped with an end date. In a world that is increasingly dependent upon consumerism, such dates are essential to keep the economic engine and “progress” going.
I find solace in that the concept of adventure will always exist if one has the will to think creatively and be open-minded about possibility. With the onset of the pandemic and consequent cancellation of all my planned adventures, it was easy to fall into a state of negativity. Like most others, I have been drifting in a sea of uncertainty. Unsure of my employment status. Unsure of my family’s economic, physical, and emotional health. Unsure of what our world and my life will look like as we emerge from the chaos of these times.
As our communities reopen, so does our access to wildlands and, thus, the potential for adventure. I am not sure when the Skyway trip will be completed. It could happen next year or yet another decade from now. The time frame really doesn’t matter, as an undone adventure has no shelf life. In fact, the very prospect of an adventure can easily exist for one’s lifetime.
Only when it has been completed does it truly end.