Posted by Rebecca
Thinking about downsizing? There are many approaches…. Trade in your gas-guzzling SUV for an economical sedan. Remove all items from your home that do nothing more than collect dust. Take the big real estate plunge and cut your square footage in half. Or consider a backpacking trip as your next vacation.
True, backpacking is not for everyone, but if you have the physical stamina it is an effective way to learn to survive with just the bare necessities – food, water, shelter. Even if just for a few days, backpacking can give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your physical needs. Maybe you could live with a little less. Maybe you don’t need every new technological gadget that is released. Maybe you would be happy with little more than the necessities.
My dad and brother moved to Jasper, Alberta, in the middle of the Canadian Rockies, in 1993. I was living there at the time and they decided to join me. My dad had just been through a rough few years with the death of my mother and a brief failed marriage, and he chose nature as his method of healing from the loss. So with my 4-year-old brother, Liam, in tow, he started climbing mountains.
His first mountain summit started out as a mountain bike ride. My dad had the heaviest mountain bike in town, and the only mountain bike that had a baby seat screwed on over the back tire. As my dad ascended Pyramid Mountain, my baby brother squealed, “Faster, daddy, faster!!” When the trail diminished into boulders, they hopped off the bike and began scrambling over the rocks, climbing higher and higher. Before they knew it, they had summited. Thus began a couple of decades of backpacking and mountain climbing, and living life in a tiny tent.
My dad has a small one bedroom apartment, where he has lived since 1994. He never felt the need to get a bigger place because whenever Liam wasn’t in school they were exploring and sleeping in a tent. Their home away from home is cozy, often quite chilly, but has the best view imaginable. And it has everything they need, which isn’t much at all.
My dad and Liam. The world is their playground.
The scrambling is a little more sophisticated these days. But it’s still just the bare necessities.
Another unusual Harrap tradition – ever since Liam was a tot, room in the tiny tent was always made for Grinny and his wife Gwvera, a couple of nature-loving bunnies.
An ice axe, helmet, boots and beer. What more does one really need?
Tiny shelter in a vast landscape. According to my dad, “When you’re plodding up the mountain trying to make the summit, and you look down and see that tiny dot, and you know you’ve got the difficult down-climbing to do, you’ve got a hankering for that little tent. Because, right now, that’s your home.”
Grinny and Gwvera making tea in the tiny kitchen.
A tour of this garden is breathtaking.
Cairns usually help to keep you on a trail or signify the top of something.
I think this cairn signifies a spectacular view.
Each and every time my dad embarks on a backpacking or climbing trip he encounters a new, exciting, wonderful experience in nature. On his recent trip, “I did find something amazing – a freshly dug grizzly bear den. (Now there’s a small home if ever there was one; the big fella wouldn’t have space even to have a roll and a good scratch.) Fortunately, the owner wasn’t home.”
My dad, David Harrap, is currently writing a book entitled, Streams Full of Stars, about his life with Liam. I’m not sure when it will be available for purchase, but I will keep you posted.