EVER SINCE I SPENT my first 30 days in the wilderness of Alaska on a NOLS backpacking course, I’ve been thinking about these questions. I was still wondering when I signed up for a second course (sea-kayaking + backpacking). Is it something universal, innate, or is it particular to the life experiences of each person?
To get answers, I talked with the friends I made on these trips, and other off-the-grid travelers I know. I asked them what initially pushed them out of their homes and into the mountains or onto the road. I asked them what their reasons were, whether they were conscious of a driving force, and why (some of them) kept coming back. Here are their answers.