GiveBIG with Brendan Leonard!

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The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 03, 2016

Every once in a while, I like to take a look at a photo of myself from about 15 years ago, my first trip to Glacier National Park. I look happy, not quite comfortable among all those big snowy peaks—and I’m wearing a shocking amount of cotton clothing (someone get this kid a clue!). I arrived at grad school in Montana pretty much lost, only knowing that I couldn’t do what I’d been doing with my life for the past five years, and that I wanted to learn how to write.

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My classes at the University of Montana helped me learn the basics of writing good stories, but I didn’t exactly have anything to write about—until I started going hiking and climbing on my own. I hadn’t read the Thoreau quote “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live” at that point, but slowly, as I poked further and further into the mountains, the stories started to form. I got lost a couple times, got rained on, forgot a headlamp and had to walk out in the dark, and I started to form an identity for myself outside of my job, my past, or where I was from.

I’m not sure what it is about the mountains that’s different from other hobbies or things people do in their spare time, but they become such a part of who we are, not just a thing we do. Our adventures affect us, and become part of our personal story. They give us the capacity to dream big when we’re not out there, and feel small when we are out there.

Join me in supporting this amazing organization! Your donation through GiveBig will support The Mountaineers’ efforts like publishing books in outdoor recreation, sustainable living and conservation advocacy support, like the copy of Freedom of the Hills I bought back in 2004 that helped me survive all my trips to the mountains for the next decade—long enough to write my book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.

I hope you’ll join me by donating during GiveBIG!

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