Monday, March 23, 2009


We had a choice. We had been hiking most of the day along a ridge that would lead down to a relatively easy walk back to the water, and our boat pick up. Unfortunately, there was an unexpected large amount of snow that we’d have to navigate. It wasn’t impossible, but there was a fair amount of risk and exposure. The high school kids we were guiding were inexperienced.

The alternative was to go back to our last camp, stay one more night, then hike out the way we came – doing in one day what had taken four days coming up. The group was already tired. The other guide and I took a moment, discussed the choice, and made the call to return to our last camp and hike down the next day. That decision turned a five hour hike into a 17 hour last day odyssey.

It was a choice informed by my experience and training, and yet I was questioned by both the kids and the chaperones that were with them.

The more fortunate one’s circumstance, the more one has choice. Poverty is the absence of choice. I get to choose. I want to be more mindful of this luxury. With my important decisions, the colour grey far outweighs that of black and white. I still find myself at times on the wrong side of even the obvious ones, but the greater challenge is choosing between easier and harder, less or more, better or best.

I can’t believe how many stupid choices I have made, some with grave consequences. These weren’t mistakes or accidents, these were willful decisions. Instead of using knowledge, training or experience, I relied instead on ignorance or arrogance.

In the mountains my job was to make decisions based on a variety of factors and variables – like group ability, weather, mountain conditions. I had spent a lot of time prior learning how to do that.

It isn’t much different down here, or at least it shouldn’t be. I make choices everyday based on a variety of factors and variables. I just need to keep learning how.

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