An adventure is often more a test of endurance, mental or physical, than anything else. It doesn't matter if you have the greatest planning, preparation, or anything else if you are not hard enough to endure whatever you are facing. And I truly believe that this hardness and ability to endure is something that is mental. The will to survive is exactly that, a will, an internal mental process. If that inner fortitude is at all tarnished it can make something as simple as getting out of bed the greatest challenge of a lifetime. However, simple things like a smile from a friend or child who looks up to you can also make you confident enough that climbing Everest or jumping over a massive crevasse is as easy as putting on your socks. It is that little bit of motivation and support that means absolutely everything in the face of adversity.
I did not feel that Stickeen was about Muir or the dog. I felt that it was about how important you can be to another individual if you take the time and effort to help them through a tough moment. Muir did not have to save the little pup, but he did and gained a great companion for it. During an adventure or an expedition everybody needs someone to say that everything is going to be alright to help them across that narrow ice bridge. This story shows just how mentally daunting a solo trip can be.