Luke Mehall, head honcho at www.climbingzine.com and one of my favorite bloggers, recently released his second book titled, The Great American Dirtbags. It is a book about searching, about longing, and it is also a book about discovery and awakening. It is one part autobiography/biography and the other part musings about a lifestyle coveted by many, but only lived by a valiant few – the American dirtbags. The writing is engrossing and brutally honest. I was impressed by the openness of the stories. No details were left out (not even the incriminating ones).

TGAD 1The story starts with a young boy, Luke, in a normal Midwest town searching for meaning and purpose. While the author does find a meaningful path in rock climbing, I got the sense that he was still searching. As the story progresses, Luke leaves home to becomes a dirtbag – someone who embodies the belief that less is more and that a truly rewarding life in the bosom of nature is still possible, even in today’s world of growing chaos and hyper-connectivity. Dirtbags drive beater cars, dumpster dive for their meals, and subsist on minute supplies of money, all in the search for a high that can only be found in wild places perched on a mountain.

I especially enjoyed the stories that Luke bravely told about his fear of climbing and how he often just wanted the climb to be over with and to be safely back on the ground. I too went through a similar stage in my climbing “career.” I can relate to how Luke was feeling up there, precariously attached to a sheer cliff face with odd bits of rope and metal.

TGAD 2The American Dirtbag is an eloquent and introspective look into the mind and journey of a boy becoming a man in the great American West. I sifted through the stories while relishing the memories it evoked of my own dirtbag days, living out of my VW Bus, searching for the stillness of nature and clarity of mind that only being in wild places can bring. While my journey was different than Luke’s, in many ways it was the same. I applaud Luke for sharing his story and will return to this book for years to come to relive my “glory years.”

TGAD 3

 

For more information on the book head on over to http://www.climbingzine.com/the-great-american-dirtbags-by-luke-mehall/

The Great American Dirtbags from Secret Burger Media on Vimeo.

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