the feeling of despair and nausea you feel when your rappel rope sticks and you realize it will take you two hours to fix it.
the smell of walking through an evergreen forest in summer.
the inability to sleep before a 12:30 am alpine wakeup, when you need it most.
the screaming barfies (when your hands get extremely cold and the resulting pain of warming them up makes you want to alternately scream and vomit).
the beckoning sound of wind coursing through a high mountain pass.
the heartfelt embrace of a family member or close friend.
the feeling of utter freedom when putting on a pack or sitting on a bicycle that contains everything you need to live and nothing that you don't.
the reassurance of a really good axe placement.
the raison d'etre.
the beauty of watching the sunrise from the side of a tall mountain... or volcano.
the utter futility of cooking in the rain.
the acceptability of having Wild Turkey for breakfast because time doesn't matter in the backcountry, three other friends are joining you, and it's the only way you'll put that 100lb pack back on.
the feeling of a 100lb pack on day three.
the accumulation of filth garnered from 2, 5, 20 days of backpacking, cycling, or mountaineering.
the incredible pleasure of taking a lukewarm shower that you paid $5 for because you haven't bathed in 4 weeks.
the acceptability of loudly farting whenever and where ever the need or desire may arise.
the draining of your spirit that another 1000 foot climb on a fully loaded bike brings.
the smile that a 1000 foot descent on a fully loaded bike brings.
the silence of the desert at night.
the feeling that you don't give a shit and that there is no where else you would rather be or no other person that you would rather be with than where you are and who you are with right at that instant.
the feeling of terror when you are runout and your arm strength is rapidly fading.
the appeal of mixing 1/2 a stick of pepperoni, 1 lb of cheese, and 1 lb of pasta and convincing yourself that it is the finest meal you have ever made.
the times you laugh so hard you cry and your sides hurt for a while afterwards.
the serenity of an isolated mountaintop.
the open road.
This train of thought was kicked off by a conversation with my friend Ieva yesterday. Some of my ideas may mirror her own. The list is by no means complete. Feel free to add more in the comments.