Nothing says home like a plate of steaming haggis.
—Adventurer Colin Angus
It only takes a couple weeks in the backcountry to make you—well, me—miss steamed milk, unmelted chocolate, and pillows. But what about hard-core adventurers? Maybe they’re so core, they don’t miss a thing. Maybe they make us look like the big, fat wussies we really are … or do they?
Read on and see what these seasoned vets miss when they’re out there.
Featuring: Adventurers Julie and Colin Angus; ice climber Will Gadd; climber Mike Libecki; surfer Kassia Meador; long-distance hiker Andrew Skurka
The Five Best Things About Returning to Civilization CELEBRITY EDITION!
5 HOT SHOWER After living in the same outfit for more than a week and being covered with a layer of grim that you mistook for a suntan until it washed down the drain, a little hot water and soap work miracles.
4 FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST Oatmeal and cowboy coffee are great, but bacon, eggs, toast, baked beans, sausages, and real coffee are better.
3 READING THE NEWSPAPER Because it’s nice to find out what happened in the world while we were away.
2 A ROOF Because sometimes it’s nice to get out of the rain/snow/hail/wind.
1 A GLEAMING PORCELAIN TOILET WITH AN ENDLESS SUPPLY OF TOILET PAPER AND TOTAL PRIVACY Because, well, you know.
5 SEX I’m probably the only one willing to own up to it, but post-trip sex is one of the best things in life.
4 WATER OUT OF A TAP No filtering, no melting snow, you just turn on a tap and out comes water. Incredible invention!
3 OTHER PEOPLE Strange how someone you normally wouldn’t tolerate for more than 30 seconds can be extremely interesting after a few weeks off the beaten path.
2 PIZZA I crave it on long trips—tomato sauce, pepperoni, cheese, cheese, and hot cheese! Cold beer, too, of course.
1 HEAT When I get back from any multi-day winter trip, I always feel a moment when the car heater comes on that I realize I don’t have to try to be warm anymore—there’s an external heat source.
Mike Libecki, big-wall climber renowned for huge solo accomplishments, including 40 days spent putting up the first ascent of the 4,200-foot Viking Shield in Greenland
5 PAINTING, DRAWING, FLYING KITES, GARDENING, CAMPING, BAKING COOKIES with my daughter
4 PLAYING PIANO AND VIOLIN with my daughter
3 SWIMMING, GYMNASTICS, AND SOCCER with my daughter
2 DANCING AND LAUGHING with my daughter
1 BEING with my daughter
Kassia Meador, longboard surfing champion and nine-year veteran of the nomadic pro surfing tour
5 COOKING IN MY OWN KITCHEN Camping food is fine and dandy, but nothing beats a home-cooked meal.
4 MY OWN BED
- Nat Geo Expeditions
3 LYING ON MY COUCH When you’re on the road, there’s no time for vegging out—it makes you appreciate being lazy.
2 A CLEAN TOILET WITH ACTUAL TOILET PAPER I love camping and trekking around for waves, but being a girl makes it just a bit more inconvenient when it comes to certain activities.
1 AN EXTRA-LONG HOT SHOWER Nothing beats it after you’ve been salty, dusty, and cold camping in Mexico.
Andrew Skurka, first hiker to complete the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop and the 7,778-mile Sea-to-Sea Route non-stop—and in one year (and our 2007 Adventurer of the Year)
5 BARS Great places to find it all: beer, women, dancing, and mechanical bulls.
4 BEING LAZY With 6,875 or 7,800 or 2,170 or 480 miles ahead waiting to be hiked, laziness really is not an option until I’m done.
3 INTELLECTUAL STIMULUS Within a few weeks, I’ve walked off any pent-up stress or personal issues and I find myself wanting nytimes.com, non-fiction books, NPR Environment podcasts, and talkative people.
2 MEALS THAT REQUIRE THOUGHT Balance Bars and rehydrated beans and rice offer lots of calories with minimum prep, but they don’t please the way that a plate of “real food” does.
1 WOMEN The need to find water, eat enough food, and stay on course while hiking overshadows another basic need (or is it just a want?) that gains much more attention once I step off the trail.