The Best Skills to Master for Light Expeditions

Part 2 of 3.

In Part 1 of this 3 part series, I introduced light expeditions, journeys accessible to anyone willing to develop the necessary strength, courage, and mastery. A light expedition is a short, performable (in personal cost, preparation time and duration) journey with a purpose that leverages and develops masculine skills and confidence while building self-understanding. It also affords opportunities to discover secrets and achieve firsts.

What kind of journey’s make you better at being a man from the perspective of Jack Donovan’s male virtues?

And what journeys and skills have good masculine aesthetics and appearance, can be recorded and inspire creative works, and provide the chance to socialize with family, friends, and interesting women?

From my perspective, the pro-masculine skills to master for light expeditions should answer the following questions affirmatively.

(0) Are there low-overhead, low-cost ways of participating almost anywhere? This allows you to practice the skill regularly.

And can you start out with a one-time experience (e.g., bucket list checkoff) and then incrementally grow it to a hobby, from a hobby to proficiency, and from proficiency to mastery?

(1) Does the skill allow practicing to scale, so that practicing on a small scale applies at a large scale as well? Can you experience the skill at both small and large scales?

For example, sailing a dinghy (i.e., a small personal sailboat like the Laser show in this photo) is low-cost and easy to learn; can be done on almost any body of water, large or small; and yet it significantly improves your understanding of winds and waves. Racing dinghy’s also increases your understanding of race tactics for all types of boats and race courses.

(2) Are there upper limits to mastery, and who can reach them? Are there deeply experienced masters of the skill willing to teach you and are they readily available?

(3) Can you get killed doing it if you don’t have a minimum level of mastery? This seriously reinforces the need for strength and courage.

(4) Can you test your courage with the skill by pushing beyond the limits of your current mastery to achieve more mastery, in ways that are prudent and not reckless? By doing so can you accrue honor in some form?

(5) Can the skill take you to remote places that few others get to see regularly? This is key to having unique explorations, and to finding secrets. It also likely means it requires some courage to make the journey there.

(6) Does the skill easily allow you to bring others — friends, family, attractive woman, LTRs, etc. — to see places few others get to see, on explorations that excite the imagination?

(7) Are the aesthics of the skill good and is your expedition worth recording, either in photos, film, paintings or drawings?

(8) Are new technologies continually changing the sport keeping things interesting, requiring more mastery, offering more chances to push your current mastery envelope and the state-of-the-art to gain honor via accomplishing firsts and finding secrets?

What skills emphasize the masculine and male virtues and provide the richest experiences? With these questions in mind, I’ll make my case.

Some Good Skills for Light Expeditions

Sailing: In sailing, more strength and more stamina translates directly to better performance: trimming sails, grinding winches, heaving anchor, and overnight watches all can be performed better with more pure muscular strength and stamina.

Moving heavy boats (or small ones) in big seas requires experience (mastery) and a calm demeanor (courage). As your mastery increases, you can push the envelope on the size of waves and wind your willing to sail in, but new, tougher conditions almost always require increased courage to overcome the sailor’s initial nerves when facing the new situation.

New, challenging conditions can happen suddenly (wind gusts, storms, lightning, etc.) and must be faced and mastered. Honor can be won in sailing via achievements in competitive races, either inshore or offshore, and by completing long, difficult voyages against your current level of skill. As your mastery increases, your courage and strength become important as you push the level of difficulty.

Whitewater canoeing and rafting: Strength, courage, and mastery all play a role in successful whitewater canoeing and rafting. Mastery is required to plan properly based on your current skill level across a spectrum of required tasks: logistics, routing, navigation, paddling technique and form, reading and running rapids (or not), lining, packing, camp-craft etc. Depending on the area, you may need to contend with bears (black, polar, or grizzly) or other aggressive wildlife.

Canoeing scales up and down quite well, as experience gained on local waters, even flat water, translates directly to trip expertise. Finding whitewater can be tougher than finding flat water, depending on where you live, but modern air travel and support from canoe and raft outfitters on the best rivers can easily overcome this.

Surfing: Strength, courage and mastery are all critical in surfing, for safety reasons and to be able to push the envelope on the size of waves you can surf. The skill scales up quite well, and the search for the perfect wave or to be the first to surf some remote, beautiful, undiscovered location with huge waves (a form of secret) is intoxicating.

In addition, taking family and friends to the beach always gets a positive response, and there is no question surfers are thought of as masculine by many women. Surfing aesthetics are excellent, and it can be practiced with friends and family nearby.

Hunting: Hunting is an ancient sport and one that early men performed in small groups. It requires all 4 masculine virtues, and provides intense socialization with other men. In some cultures, deer hunting is something the whole family does together. It’s rather mysterious but the male bonding the comes from a joint, successful hunt is primordial and seems to tap into something deep in the male soul. Fishing has similar characteristics. Hunting and fishing are also excellent ancillary skills for light expeditions, even if they are not the end purpose of the trip.

Motorcycles: Motorcycles have great masculine aesthetics, are associated with small gangs of men, and are legendary for the variety and depth of the journeys one can achieve with them. Given the dangers to bikers on the open road, it requires and signals a base level of courage to even ride them.

You might think that my emphasis on aesthetics is superfluous, and yet… we are entering a golden age for gifted amateurs to record and artistically express what they have accomplished on light expeditions. Incredibly cheap yet sophisticated digital cameras like GoPro’s, combined with cheap film editing tools like iMovie and Final Cut Pro allow literally anyone to beautifully record their light expedition.

Although this list is not complete, these four skills are excellent for developing masculine traits and performing light expeditions. I hope this essay has you thinking about other potential skills that could be leveraged for light expeditions. The links below point to all three essays in this series on light expeditions.

Part 1: The Power of Light Expeditions

Part 2: The Best Skills to Master for Light Expeditions

Part 3: Light Expeditions, Lake Superior Style

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