Most people enjoy a beautiful day hike, but not as many are thrilled with the idea of backpacking and sleeping outdoors–carrying the ridiculous amounts of equipment people need to survive and be comfortable. People go backpacking for a lot of reasons: to prove they can, to experience the outdoors, to see beautiful views. I would say that all of these reasons stem from one core motivation: doing something different. Our lives are surrounded by luxury, noise, comfort, and stress. Backpacking says no to the new normal.
I took my first backpacking trip this weekend, hiking up Mt. Liberty in the White Mountains with an enormous pack on my back. It sort of felt like a gust of wind would topple me without effort.
It was hard. I knew it would be hard. I found myself thinking: “Why the hell am I doing this?” a few times. I was doing it for all the reasons I mentioned above, and more. I was doing it for the camaraderie, for the satisfaction that comes from eating a simple meal high in the mountains that is somehow one of the more delicious things you’ve ever consumed. I was doing it to remove the stress of a million choices and anxieties, and focus on a few crucial tasks, like filtering water from a spring and climbing to the top of the mountain. I was doing it to get away from my normal life, a life that was so far from these quiet, natural surroundings that it might as well have been a different planet.
That is why.
Yesterday, when we got in the car, I was stinky and exhausted. Today, I am covered in fly bites and one gnarly spider bite. My calves wince at movement. They are building character. They are learning. And I will return to the woods.