What Is a Boony Stomper?

Boony Stomper isn’t something you buy – it’s something you become.

A boony stomper is a boot wearing, paddle pulling, pedal pumping adventurer. The life is for the people who want to see places that roads don’t go. No double-track toy hauling for these adventurers. They leave all the trapping of metal and fiberglass wrapped comfort at home. A boony stompers carry what they need as they venture off under their own power to see what’s out there.

Shelter for the boony stomper might be a tent or only a tarp. They make their beds on the ground or strung between trees where they are part of nature, not hidden from it in some hard shell on wheels. The insulation of a good bag or quilt keeps them warm at night, along with the heat they generate as they build their own body to take them farther and higher.

No broken axles or flat tires slow down the boony stomper, who has everything in their pack, drybag, or paniers to keep them on their journey. The boony stomper isn’t limited by the road. But follows narrow paths to hidden places that vehicles can never reach. Rock and trees don’t dent them, but callouses remind them of the miles they’ve earned.

The unbroken silence of the wilderness is free to immerse in. The breeze and birds sing uninterrupted by internal combustion engines or the squeak of leaf springs. And the nightbirds song calls out unhindered by the walls of some drag-behind box.

Here is calm so deep, grasses cease waving. . . . Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and; tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.

~ John Muir

Some might choose to conquer all with internal combustion. They might taste a little of the nature before hiding from it like some frightened neanderthal dragging his cave wherever he goes. But the one who dares to dwell with the nature in rain or shine, that person soaks it in and finds joy in it at a level, the cave dweller never knows.

What wonders lie in every mountain day!. . . Crystals of snow, plash of small raindrops, hum of small insects, booming beetles, the jolly rattle of grasshoppers, chirping crickets, the screaming of hawks, jays, and Clark crows, the ‘coo-r-r-r’ of cranes, the honking of geese, partridges drumming, trumpeting swans, frogs croaking, the whirring rattle of snakes, the awful enthusiasm of booming falls, the roar of cataracts, the crash and roll of thunder, earthquake shocks, the whisper of rills soothing to slumber, the piping of marmots, the bark of squirrels, the laugh of a wolf, the snorting of deer, the explosive roaring of bears, the squeak of mice, the cry of the loon-loneliest, wildest of sounds.

~ John Muir

Being in the wild, the boony stomper finds reprieve from the incessant noise and repair of mechanical baggage. In the woods or plains, the air is better and the freedom unbounded. We travel as we wish and camp where we are unencumbered by access by roads or highways.

Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hidden in dark shells, the faux campers retreat from nature as though it is some other to which they are not a part. The boony stomper on the other hand, is at once observer and participant in nature. The hiker, paddler, or peddler, who under their own power exits the confines of civilization finds a place in this bigger, grander world.

Ideal spots in nature are often more than a single day’s journey by foot and fully unreachable dragging a cave, even a small one. Rather, heft your pack and leave roads behind. Only then can you truly see the vistas not seen by most.

We climbed up Nebo’s shoulder. The one that curves of the peaks to the south and then west. At the top of the shoulder, we pitched our shelter, below the peaks, but far above the foothills and valleys to the east and the west. Looking out across the expanse to the east, we saw the distance rocky peaks of the Uintas. To the west, the low hills trailing south from Utah Lake were mere ripples thousands of feet below us. Beyond them, we had an uninterrupted view of the west desert, off into the dry northern basin of Nevada. I had never felt a part of such vastness as I did then.

~ anonymous boony stomper

Those who follow roads and cling to numbered routes never see the truly wild places. To set foot on ground unmarred by footprints of others requires letting go of trappings. Leave the drag cave behind to really go where the cycles of wilderness flow in the natural course.

Nothing is more wonderful than to find smooth harmony in this lofty cragged region where at first sight all seems so rough. From any of the high standpoints a thousand peaks, pinnacles, spires are seen thrust into the sky and so sheer and bare as to be inaccessible to wild sheep, accessible only to the eagle. Any one by itself harsh, rugged, crumbling, yet in connection with others seems like a line of writing along the sky; it melts into melody, one leading into another, keeping rhythm in time.

~ John Muir

Children released from the harnesses of vehicles and drag-along shelters, find a natural place of contentment. They may remember their screens and domestic trappings for an hour or two. Then they forget those small diversions and turn their attention the vastness around them. The adventure of sleeping on the ground or slung from a tree captures calls to them. The infinite possibilities the wild offers leave the limits of screentime forever dulled and lacking. But take them out with drag-along trappings, and you may never allow them to fully immerse in what is real. You will tell them that what is out there it something they are not a part of. You will tell them they can look about but must hide from it, as though it is something to be feared.

I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beside the grand history of the glaciers and their own, the mountain streams sing the history of every avalanche or earthquake and of snow, all easily recognized by the human ear, and every word evoked by the falling leaf and drinking deer, beside a thousand other facts so small and spoken by the stream in so low a voice the human ear cannot hear them. Thus, every event is written and spoken. The wing scars the sky, making a path inevitably as the deer in snow, and the winds all know it and tell it though we hear it not.

~ John Muir

Don’t mistake tent camping at campground for boony stomping. Although the campground may be a convenient over-night point at the end of a long drive, it is not the boony stomper’s destination. The real magic of connecting with nature starts beyond the confines of numbered parking stalls. The depth and breadth of nature to be experienced is far from the road.

Have you ever heard an eagle fly. It only happens when you are in absolute silence. The sound of massive wings pushing through the air over a wilderness lake cannot soon be forgotten. But where combustion engines fill the air, the sound of the eagle’s wings goes unnoticed.

~ anonymous boony stomper

Admittedly, boony stomping comes with fitness and skill requirements. You need to have the physical energy and strength to push through the terrain you’ve chose. That’s not something you can just purchase. There is no quick upgrade package to fitness. Expertise also comes at a cost beyond money, though money can speed up the process. Getting trained on how to travel in the backcountry can be had by purchasing or by doing. As the saying goes, “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from lots of bad judgement.” Starting small and building is a bit of wisdom shared by many experienced boony stompers. The essentials include:

  • Learning how to know where you are and routes to where you want to go
  • Understanding the sky and weather patterns that might impact your plans
  • What is within your ability
  • Prioritizing essentials based on the time of year and terrain

To be the best you can be in the outdoors and to safely immerse yourself in the experience means understanding the space between your comfort zone and your safety zone.

Taking a group of five novice backpackers on their first preparation hike, we followed a trail that led just a few miles into a hillside strewn with juniper trees. We travelled up a draw, over a hill, down another draw then up onto another hill to reach our camp area. We had a grand view of the valley below. That night we enjoyed a chorus of coyotes who had gathered somewhere nearby. The next day we followed the same route out of the hills. What the fledgling boony stompers didn’t know at first, but later figured out, was that a shorter route existed that was about a quarter length of our hike. Their next two hikes had no such “emergency escape routes” as the backpackers then knew better how to handle themselves in the wild.

~ anonymous boony stomper

If you feel like dragging a box on wheels is the way you want get almost out there, then enjoy it. But know this, the real boony stomper is far beyond what you see on your nature hike. The air and bird songs and streams that are truly wild are only to be had by leaving the wheels behind and venturing under your own power into wild places.

Want to learn more without getting bogged down by gear pushers simply competing for your dollar. Boutique outdoor magazines will remain timeless:

  • Sidetracked – stories of expeditions small and large, including the before and after
  • Another Escape – an outdoor lifestyle, creative culture, and sustainable living publication
  • Adventure Journal – reports, essays and photographs that explore outdoor culture
  • Les Others – biannual, fully bilingual magazine focusing on the outdoors, travel, and photography
  • Ernest Journal – surprising and meandering journeys, fueled by curiosity rather than adrenaline
  • The Explorers Journal – quarterly publication includes the latest dispatches from the field to its readers through writing and photography

Being a boony stomper is a lifestyle of freedom to explore, immerse, and enjoy living on this amazing planet.


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