Wilderness Pt 1: Rest
Story and photos by Travis Perkins
Several years ago, I summited a large cinder cone volcano dubbed El Misti in the southern region of Peru. I had been living/teaching in Cusco for about 6 months at the time, and after a marathon of high-altitude adventures, El Misti had become my prize peak.
Her smoldering crater sits at 19,101 ft above sea level and 12,000 ft. above the nearby city of Arequipa. There are 2/3 day guided tours offered up to the summit, however I had been living in Cusco with no viable income for several months and, at that point in the traveling game, one can’t really afford to spend money on luxuries like guides or porters. So, a travel buddy and I summited El Misti solo, in one day, hitting the trail at 2:30 AM and reaching the crater at mid-day.
All in all, we were on the trail for a total of 15 hours.
After finishing El Misti, and after a 4 week stint of intense weekend backpacking, I promised myself and others that I was going to take a break and let my body rest. But we all know what happens when you make promises like that...the next morning I received an email from a friend, inviting me on a summit attempt of Cerro Picol, right outside of Cusco. (14k ft.)
I couldn’t resist! And less than 48 hours after El Misti, I was on the trail again.
The night following the Picol summit, my body endured a raging fever like I’ve never experienced before. Even though I was having the time of my life, I had broken myself down, and my body literally couldn't take it anymore.
This season of adventuring, physical endurance, and wear and tear taught me a lot about the value of balancing hard work with meaningful rest. I’ve got a few friends that are accountants, and I can’t think of a better definition of seasons of tirelessly working than being an accountant during tax season. In situations where you're in an office crunching numbers, it is easy to become aware of the importance of rest.
But, in times of bliss and enjoyment, we become much less aware. These times seem to convince us that we don’t need truly rest.
Whether you view your day-to-day as work or as play, rest should make its way into your life. I could have spent my time after El Misti in rest, but I ended up spending it in intense fever. A very strong reminder of how my body and spirit are designed.
I recently heard from a wise man that meaningful work leads to meaningful rest, and meaningful rest leads to meaningful work.
If think our spirits are meant for meaning, then there's no doubt rest plays a role in that truth.