This is my first time camping. I’m in the tent, in my sleeping bag, and next to me, my friend James Mercer is breathing peacefully. Other than that ... silence like I have never experienced. Yet it’s somehow familiar. I think of home, of leaving home: the four flights, the two 12-hour days in a van down a dust-clouded dirt road with eight guys packed knee-to-knee, the seven-mile hike, fording the icy river in my underwear with my 50-pound pack over my head. Where I am now, in Patagonia, is the other side of the earth and somehow I feel at home. My mind keeps trying to find something to worry about, but no luck ... and then I’m asleep.
Chris and Emmett Malloy had invited James and me to join the 180° South crew, hoping we would be inspired to write some music for the film. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I was excited by the fact that I was so nervous. As a musician I have learned to respect those moments when fear rears up: It’s when you’re uncomfortable or awkward or terrified that you get to the marrow of the bone. When I first arrived in Patagonia and met everyone, I was struck by how many had the same attitude. As a boy I had dropped out of high school and educated myself – in libraries and on the road. Here I was with people, who like me, were unsatisfied with the ways things were – people who wanted change but instead of building castles or rebelling outward had looked inward and challenged themselves. They had learned by venturing to places on earth that were still primal, places where the voice of the land was clear and uninterrupted. Doug and Kris Tompkins, Rick Ridgeway, Timmy O’Neill, the Malloy brothers, Yvon Chouinard – before this trip I hadn’t heard of any of them.