Marcy Dam was my first tool pack-in, back in the summer of 2012. I was fresh out of finals week, the airless world of fluorescent screens and dim libraries, and wholly intoxicated by the smell of balsam fir, the sun glinting off Heart Lake, the entire summer before me. It was late May, but the morning was already warm.
Outside the Wiezel Trails Cabin, my fellow first-years and I practiced tying-on — the artful process of lashing a share of gear and tools to one’s pack-frame with parachute cord. I situated a box full of cans of tuna and pineapple on my frame’s shelf and pulled the cord tight across the cardboard, securing it with a clumsy half-hitch. Holding the frame steady with my knee, I looked at the massive pile of tools beside me and tried to envision how they could all fit onto this small rectangle of metal, which would then, somehow, be strapped to my body. » Continue Reading.