I sat in the warehouse, wrapped in plastic, filled with dreams of being the weight on the shoulders of the next outdoor adventurer. I wanted to go somewhere exotic, to carry local artisan goods and souvenirs, to lay in an alpine meadow and take in the view. I resembled the color of Kermit the frog, not a flaw to be seen and stitched to perfection. At capacity, my 40 liters were enough to hold a trekker’s every layer, liquid and edible, even those trusty hiking poles that make the week’s miles less strenuous.
Little did I know the guide to carry me would be non other than Ken Fuhrer, senior guide for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. My career as Mr. Fuhrer’s companion started with a trip packed within a pack across the pond where we united for the first time in the romantic Tyrolean village of Völs am Schlern, located in the Italian Dolomites. My first go was up the Alpe di Siusi, the largest meadow in Europe! What an incredible site! Riding on the shoulders of Mr. Fuhrer was off to a good start to a long and rigorous summer that would end before it really began.
My only job was to hold the contents of Mr. Fuhrer’s many summer walkabouts and reassure him I would not burst at the seams. Bopping around with each step, tossed from trail to hotel to taxi and back again, I cannot say it was the smoothest ride, but I will say the greatest joy was knowing my 40 liter belly was always filled with the best on-trail picnic goodies you could imagine. Never without a local wheel of cheese, or the best biscuits this side of the Atlantic, I sometimes became selfish and hid my favorites beneath the other layers until eventually someone would comment on the odor emitted from within my bright green skeleton.
Unlike a fine local cheese, I did not get better with age. I had worked so hard in 45 days I had faded from a vibrant Kermit to a dull and lifeless green olive—not the fine European varieties, but the overly salty, jarred kind. I had not imagined that my dreams would be cut short and although I can still carry the weight of the world on any adventure’s shoulders, I could not imagine it being anyone other than Mr. Fuhrer’s.
I am back where I came from to have my gaunt appearance and salty attitude assessed. I have no qualms about being replaced by a more colorful version of myself, so why this silly tale? Reinhold Messner said it best: “The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have.”
Nicole Nugent is a travel consultant for Ryder Walker Alpine Adventures. She has a degree in Integrative Physiology from University of Colorado, Boulder and also works as wellness chef and NASM certified personal trainer. You can follow her health and nutrition blog at huntgathernourish.blogspot.com