by Calicoe Richir
I grew up hiking, but the first time I ever went camping with loaded backpack was on the Appalachian Trail. I was straight out of college and figured I would “backpack” until I got bored, got hurt, or ran out of money. Two months and 350 miles later, I was broke and had to move back into civilization. Thus, my first backpacking lesson was learned:
Take a chance, be brave, and you will always remember it.
Shortly thereafter, I moved to Portland, Oregon. (First lesson applied!) I loved it there: the quirky people, my pet chickens, the awesome food, the dark beer… mmm, the dark beer! But looking back, what I miss the most about the Northwest was backpacking through it.
No crazy 2-month long stints this time, I just went out for long weekends. I backpacked on the coast, on Mt Hood, near Three Sisters and Three-Fingered Jack, and in Olympic National Park. I worked for the Boy Scouts of America and volunteered leading Venture Crew youth groups on the weekends. And, I acquired backcountry skills and life lessons in spades.
Here are a few more of my back-country epiphanies:
Being both over-prepared and under-prepared will make you miserable.
Stepping outside your comfort zone and embracing a challenge offers the best rewards.
You can make plans, but things change. Perfect the art of the work-around.
It doesn’t matter how much of the trail is uphill and how much is downhill, the point is to be out there hiking. Appreciate the value of the path you are on.
Hiking is what gets you outside, but it’s the unexpected wonders that make it worth your while.
My perspective has been forever altered by these few short trips into the wild. I actually gained valuable experience that I now apply on a daily basis in civilization. I feel better prepared to handle the unexpected at work and take on challenges because I can do this! I have this sense of "path" that it might be uphill now, but that only promises an awesome vista at the end of the day. You've got to earn it.
It only takes a 3-day weekend outside to appreciate the simple luxuries in your life. I know hot showers, beds, and dry clothes have never looked so good than after a rugged hike.
When you get out there remember, that which doesn’t kill you makes for a REALLY good story.