To the little things

By Tom Holland December 22, 2016


I have often shared that my Wilderness Adventures experience prepared me for life. I mean this in a big and course altering sort of way, but also when it comes to the little things.

This time of year, I often find that I have a heightened level of appreciation for the little bits of life that make it so good. When I zoom out a bit for reflection, I often trace those feelings of appreciation back to my time at Wilderness Adventures. Not only did my experience instill in me a sense of appreciation for many of the foundational aspects of my life (my family, my parents, the natural wonders of our beautiful world), but it also informed me about the little parts of life that should not be forgotten. So, in this season of appreciation, wonder, and magic, here is my list of the little things that I appreciate due to my time at WA:

I appreciate my warm jacket that keeps me dry.

I remember a time in the Wind River Range on an amazing trip accessed by a few of our great adventures. For a few days on this trip, the rain would just not stop. In that moment, we all sat outside our tents and played games in the rain. In that moment (like many moments on the trip), my trip leader became the cheerleader. He loudly, and with an immense amount of humor said ‘there is not bad weather, just bad attitudes and bad gear.’ I took that to heart.

This past weekend in Jackson Hole, it hit -28. As I did a hike up a nearby peak, I could feel my eyelashes freezing. However, my body was completely warm. I appreciate the warmth my jacket brings during this wintry season and our thoughts and prayers go to those who are cold during this holiday season.

I appreciate the abundance of food that we often take for granted.

The cheese block from my Wilderness Adventures trip is forever etched in my mind. While we would all work together to make each meal and snack, we all would have our own ‘personal bag’, filled with GORP, fruit roll ups, and other miscellaneous items that we could eat whenever we wished. In this bag was a block of cheese, and that block of cheese made me feel like a king.

Now, here’s the deal: I love cheese, and I would actively trade so I could get more cheese (ramen + a bagel was often a good exchange). But, I remember one evening all of us sat around the fire and we discussed our ‘personal bags’. We realized as a group how this little bag represented how lucky we were. Not only were we well fed 3+ times a day, but we also got the opportunity to have more if we wished. And the ‘more’ were things we got to choose ourselves. I have never looked at cheese the same way again. For me, to have cheese, means that I have more than enough, something that people in many parts of the world long to feel.

I appreciate the team I work with.

Sure, many people have this feeling, and many people draw their appreciation of a great team from different moments in their lives. But, I distinctly remember where I learned about what makes a great team: it was in my summit attempt of the Grand Teton on my Wilderness Adventures trip. Our groups tackle many ‘peaks’ on trips and one of the best things about these summit attempts is the way it pulls our groups together.

The hike was difficult, and we quickly began to realize that if we were going to have a shot at making it to the top, we would have to pull together in a new way. This new way meant that even in the moments of immense tension, we would have to remember that we all wanted the same thing and encouragement would be the greatest antidote.

I have worked with many teams: in my professional career and even as a high school coach. In those moments when I have looked around and have found myself on a great team, my mind goes back to Garnet Canyon in 1996 on that climb of the Grand Teton. Right now, working with the leadership team at WA, is one of those moments. It is due to an impressive sense of professionalism, a variety of personalities that all have a distinct role to play, a healthy dose of fun and, finally, a recognition that we all do this work because we feels in our hearts that we are changing the world for the better.

Here’s to the little things that make life so very sweet. In appreciation for a wonderful 2016 and with eager anticipation of the best that is yet to come. Here’s to the next peak.