I have been an avid hiker and cyclist for many years; however I had never been backpacking until the year I began dating my late husband. After our second date I began receiving boxes of backpacking gear and clothing in the mail on a daily basis. It was all rather romantic, charming and amusing. Our first trip was 75 miles over 5 days from Stevens to Snoqualmie pass through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Admittedly, he did everything he could to insure I would love backpacking; including getting up early to make coffee and bring it to me in the tent while I was still in my sleeping bag. That began my love for backpacking and we had many wonderful trips before he passed away in 2009. My step-son and I carry on his memory by taking the grandkids backpacking each summer. I feel so much pride in watching them struggle through the difficult portions and enjoying the fun parts. Their love for the outdoors is apparent and I am thrilled to see them completely happy without the need of anyone to entertain them of the use of technology.
Backpacking can challenge you in a way that I think everyone should experience. From the organization and preparation of your gear to the physical ability required to pack yourself up a steep mountain trail. You also have to make due with any weather, getting lost, the food that you brought and even an occasional minor emergency. All of these not only give children an excellent learning opportunity in self-reliance and resiliency but reminds us adults how simple things can really be. Additionally, it gives us all a chance to “get off the grid” and remember what life was like before cell phones, computers and tablets.
Backpacking helps build the following characteristics:
I would encourage all of you to give it a try. Safety, of course, is the first consideration for new backpackers. There are many classes available through REI and The Mountaineers to receive adequate training. Also backpackers are a friendly, inclusive group so you may already know someone who would be happy to introduce you. Guide companies are also available for more extensive trips.