What a great read! Your story is VERY inspiring to me! I was worried that I was starting too late in life (47 years old) and with too little experience. In fact, the only camping experiences I had were a couple of summer camp/ boyscout weekenders as a kid. I've read a lot of the articles and reviews you've written and I want you to know that this one spoke to me the most. Like you I have always had an inner calling to explore the outdoors. It wasn't until now that I made a firm commitment to having my backpacking adventures. I think going backpacking is the ultimate way to really experience nature and appreciate the beauty of it all. It's the best way to feel the oneness of everything.
I was an OS from 1981 to 1982 and an OT from 1982 to 1985. Since you were at Adak, I'm sure you know what an OT was. The last couple of months of my enlistment the detailer made me an offer to go to Adak, after which he said I could have any duty station I wanted. I decided to get out and go to college instead. I've always regretted that decision.
I'd heard such wonderful things about Adak from friends who were stationed there, I wish I would have signed up for one more hitch to have the experience of serving there. I guess you could say in a way that "mother nature insisted I go light," because of my late age at starting backpacking and several sports injuries that never quite healed properly. I bought all this heavy gear before I read "Lightweight Backpacking and Camping," and before reading this site for the last 2 years. I am totally sold on the concepts of UL backpacking! So, now I have been in the process of replacing all of that previously purchased "heavy" gear with lightweight gear and I'm almost there.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know that it's nice to hear someone else share a story that I can very much relate to. Thank you also for all of your other work on Backpackinglight.com. Your experiences and your guidance in your articles and reviews are greatly appreciated and have helped me immensely in my gear buying decisions as well as learning UL skills.