The table and couch in my basement is covered with gear.  Everything from my sleeping bag to compass has taken up residence on a cushion or some empty space.  Ziplock bags with trail food, rain gear and a water bladder are waiting to be stuffed into a backpack.

The countertop in the living room has been assigned a similar duty:  guide books, maps and the trusty Utah road atlas lay open to specific pages.  It’s the night before a trip, and such explosions of gear are the norm on this “trip’s eve.”  Soon enough it will all find a home, neatly packed away to be pulled out sometime in the next 24 hours.  Only the next time the gear and maps see daylight it will be at the bottom of some dusty canyon far off the beaten trail.

Later tonight I’ll be accounting for every piece of equipment… did I pack extra socks?  How about my headlamp?  Jesus, did I forget the whiskey?  I never seem capable of taking a trip without forgetting at least one piece of gear, but in truth it doesn’t often matter.  What matters is this:  tomorrow I will be someplace wild.  I’ll be in a place I haven’t seen before.  Where is it?  Doesn’t matter… I could be at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or scraping the sky atop a snowy mountain peak.  The idea is the same… get out there and get that gear as dirty as possible.  After all, that’s why I have it, right?

The next hours will be filled with anticipation.  Dinner and maybe a few drinks, some sports to distract from my growing sense of excitement.  Try as I might, I know I won’t be able to fool myself.  Sleep will be hard to come by, even though I’ll surely want to be well rested for the coming activities.  I’ve done this dance before, tried to wile away the fitful hours leading up to the next adventure.  Tomorrow night that pile of gear and I will be camped beneath the stars… and I can hardly wait to be there.

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