I’m a well-tread day hiker through and through. Recently me and my husband have been contemplating taking it up a notch to backpacking. We know we won’t be thru-hikers but doing a 4 or 5 day hike would be exhilarating. But I’m not sure I’m ready. I have so many questions and doubts.
About 3 years ago I got it stuck in my head that I was going to walk the John Muir Trail. I researched all kinds of things ie trails, gear, weather. So, for a test run, we would do an overnight trip not far from home. We were to hike into a campsite with a reliable water source. Being in Tennessee, water is not often an issue but it is one of my biggest fears about long-distance hiking.
I F—-ed up.
I was adamant that I knew where I was going and that we were headed in the right direction. I wouldn’t let my husband help me. I’m a big girl, I can do this by myself. But the thing is, I needed help. We realized we were not where I thought we should be. Also, there wasn’t a reliable water source close and we were running low. I hadn’t bought a filtration system since this would have been helpful. I admitted I was lost and let my husband take over the map. We were about equidistant from the campsite and the parking lot.
Screw this! I was tired and upset so I was ready to go home!
The climb out was rather strenuous. I was very close to losing my shit! We got lucky in that a guy let us have some of his water. (he even waited at the trailhead to make sure we made it out..) Once we were back in the car, we headed to the closest store for water. We were slightly loopy and I’m sure the employees thought we were on drugs.
But this experienced crushed me.
I lovve planning. the fact that all my planning didn’t work out, made me extremely disappointed in myself.
This one bad experience turned me off backpacking. Even though it was all due to my inexperience and inability to ask for help. I sold or returned all the gear I had so recently bought.
The whole incident put me off hiking for quite a while. Only after going for a hike on a recent camping trip did I rediscover my joy of hiking. I’ve hiked a great deal in the past 3 months and now I feel the urge to backpack overnight.
What am I doing differently this time?
Navigation– This was a major flaw in my last try at backpacking. So this time I’m trying to learn as much as possible before trying again. I’m currently reading a few books on reading nature and navigating along with compass reading. I just bought a compass and am making progress!
Asking for help– I’m part of a Facebook group for women hikers and I’ve already asked for advice about a few things. My husband is a great wealth of often useless but sometimes useful knowledge. Plus knowing he supports and is interested in doing this, helps a lot.
Different type of planning– I’m doing more trail and set up planning than I did previously. I’ve become more obsessed with making sure there’s water.
Mentally preparation– I know that hiking can be mentally rigorous. I played roller derby for 7 years, so I know how the handle the physical and mental challenges. I need to think more about this beforehand. Last time I was so sure of how easy and simple things would be, I just fell apart with things went south. We’re also planning a day-long hike with packs. We’ll get the semblance of backpacking but know that our safety net, the car, is readily accessible.
It’s good to know that mistakes (well most) aren’t permanent. I made a mistake but now I can go about correcting them and have another go at backpacking.
We’ve even talked about section hiking the Appalachian Trail!
I’m not sure we’ll get around to an overnight hike this year but I do hope so.
Since I first started writing this a few days ago, I’ve decided we WILL overnight this year. We’re doing our day-long hike in 2 weeks and I hope to get an overnight end by the end of October. I think my husband isn’t as gung ho but I have the following quote as my computer background and it’s yelling at me to go!
“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.Timothy Ferris
I’ll keep you posted.
Get outdoor and explore!
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