June 2017 marked the first of what will likely be many more trips to whatever backcountry I can get to.
Prior to this year, my interest in the whole activity was middling at best.
I'm hopelessly addicted.
We've been fortunate to be able to get back out to Emigrant Wilderness two more times since then — one with a trek through snow! Not what I previously assumed would be the case in the midst of summer, but it sure was fun.
So what exactly makes backpacking so enjoyable? After all, the middays can be hot, your body can get sore, and ...bugs?
Mhm. All of those things!
But there's so much more. I'll chat a bit about the things I love most about our trips in the hopes of convincing someone teetering on the edge to go for it. Or, if you're a regular backpacker, I'd love to hear what motivates you to get outside, too!
1. Clearing your head
No cell service. No distractions. Your immediate needs are at the forefront, allowing you to pinpoint your focus.
(Okay, so there may be places where some reception is available. Not on my carrier *cough.*
Regardless, airplane mode it up! That cell phone you're using as GPS will last much longer and you're free to live in the moment.)
2. Pushing yourself Physically and mentally
I used to think I hated physical activity. PE class was my enemy through middle and high school. I think I had just resigned myself to being a small, skinny, nerd. I didn't look like people who were strong, so therefore I felt like I could never be strong.
As it turns out, there was nothing preventing my short and twiggy self from getting fit.
I just had to had to find the right activities for me.
Although I still hate running (¯\_(ツ)_/¯), I found that I love working out in other tactile ways.
Regularly rock climbing was a big game changer and one of the most significant keystone habits I've developed in my adult life. After starting, everything else I modified in my life was in part so I could improve.
Watching macros to know where my nutrition was at, lifting free weights for added strength and stability, more yoga for flexibility, core, and breathing.
Add a little cycling and hiking for building endurance, and boom! I began to feel solid.
And I started to realize: I love the outdoors.
So why not hike with weight? I had gotten a pack two years ago for the "maybe one day I'll take an adventure" day to arrive.
It never did, but I was finally able to make it happen.
Here's what we wanted to do:
Going into it, I only had an abstract idea of what 2000 ft of elevation gain would feel like and 7 mi didn't look like much on paper.
Then I found out what covering half the elevation in about a mile felt like. Under clear skies. In midday sun. On an exposed, rocky trail. With a pack that wasn't winning any comfort awards from me under load.
But we were out here, nearly 200 miles from home, and it was time to stay mentally in check. Although we didn't make it to Kennedy Lake that time — a raging creek and an unwilling pup shut that down — we got as close as we could and it felt fantastic.
Now when facing a long uphill slog, dare I say it almost feels enjoyable to keep my heart rate at a place I know works for me, to keep at it steadily, and upon reaching the top, getting a view of what the hell I just walked up.
I know that every time my mental toughness improves and I recover from each trip being a bit stronger than I was before.
I live for pushing those upper limits. Conquer the mind and you can conquer anything.
3. Honing organizational skills
I'm not sure what happened. Growing up, even when I've tried my hardest to be organized, I've always found myself scattered, my room was a mess, and my to-do list was formed by recalling tasks from memory.
Looking back, I have no idea how I functioned.
Organizational skills are awesome.
Backpacking has provided another way to put them to the test and hone them for efficiency.
And it's actually fun.
There's something about putting together a couple of solid spreadsheets, getting my pack together, and knowing where everything is (more or less) that is really calming and instills a sense of independence. After all, if I ended up forgetting something, that would be completely on me and I'd need to deal with the consequences.
So in an effort to avoid all of that — knock on wood, I haven't forgotten anything yet — I keep myself alert and on top of details while prepping. Being organized is highly transferrable, and practice makes perfect!
"Bujo-ing" since last year has also helped, but that's a different post. ;)
4. Taking in fresh air and fresh views
Yes, a quick hop through Instagram's #getoutside can offer some pretty spectacular sights, but nothing is a replacement for experiencing the outside yourself.
When I woke up to this sight and then saw a deer hopping over a log nearby I couldn't help but to be abuzz about that all day. They were simple moments, but they were so pure. And I felt blessed.
By the Earth Goddess, of course.
5. Everything tastes better
...and you can go to town. Remember those spreadsheets I mentioned earlier? We have one going for food just to be sure we err on the side of gluttony.
Taking our fried rice with Portuguese sausage out to backcountry? Clutch.
Swiss Miss — mega-clutch.
And who knew eating pad thai out of a boil bag could be so great? Clearly the people at Good to Go Foods.
I don't even get paid to tell you that. It's just damn good, calorie dense, food.
6. Quality time with companions
Whether with humans or a four-legged furry creature, backpacking has created space and uninterrupted time that I get to spend with those nearest to me. It's strengthened bonds and friendships through the many shared experiences, laughs, and struggles.
Cozying up to a warm fire with friends, your love, and a pup is hard to beat.
Those were six reasons why I love backpacking! Hopefully you've enjoyed the read, but I'd love to hear from you, too.
Leave a comment and let me know if you have any upcoming plans, questions, or what you enjoy about getting outside.
xo — Eda