It's been 35 or more years since my old pack arrived in the mail from LL Bean.
Back then, life was simpler… you called a company on the telephone, ordered a small pack and two weeks later, a box arrived in the mail. Back then I was a forester in need of a small, light, durable pack to use at my day job, "working in the woods."
Things were different then. Life was busy but under control. There were no cell phones, no texting, no email, no social media, no Internet, no 24 hour news cycle, no personal computers...in fact, I had just discovered overnight mail! Can I really be this old?
My "old red pack" and I traveled hundreds of miles on the trail from the Adirondacks to the Rockies and the Northwest Territories. It carried my first elk meat and lots of venison from the backwoods. It carried diapers and bottles for six kids, dog food for at least four dogs, sandwiches and drinks for many woodsmen and me. It carried a bottle of wine and two glasses stuffed in wool socks for Valentine's Day. It carried tools, lanterns, tack for horses, miles of ropes, carabiners, extra socks and mitts and more bug dope than you can imagine.
All these years, it's been a dependable friend - tough, strong and without fail. My pack has acted as a windshield, an umbrella and oftentimes my pillow. My pack has heard many, many campfire stories and I have come home many times frozen, smelling like smoke or Wild Bill’s pipe tobacco. It has heard lessons to my children and it has seen sights most can only imagine while witnessing intimate, special moments.
My pack has been there for lots of brush cutting, sub- zero days on skis and snow sled, mountain climbing, riding the rivers and late-day swims in the lake. It's seen broken bones, broken tools and more than once, it has gone through the ice. My "ole red pack" has seen the best of times and the worst. It's seen young ones arrive and elders leave.
This picture taken on 5/16/16 is this same old friend sitting in the moss as my son and I clear yet another boundary line. Looking at this pack makes me realize it's still my oldest companion and it continues to take me back to the wilderness...to a simpler time......the way it was that day 35 years ago when I opened the box.
I believe this pack will always hug my back 'til that final journey into the greatest wilderness of all.
Daniel M. Christmas