Day 8 – “H” Hiking
I grew up camping, hiking, and playing in the great outdoors. During my childhood, my parents limited TV and computer time and refused to get my sister and I any type of gaming device. Looking back, this resulted in the best possible outcome: a complete respect and reverence for nature and all the rewards it can bring.
I recently wrote a short autobiography as part of a project I’m currently working on to use as marketing material for our clients. A huge portion of this was dedicated to my childhood spent camping, of our many adventures that took place outside, and hiking and backpacking as an adult.
Clearly, being surrounded by nature is an important part of my life.
My husband and I had been on a number of shorter backpacking trips in the past, but we really started getting into some hardcore packing when we started dating. Man, were the first few trips a challenge! There is so much I had to learn about long-term and long-distance backpacking. First, this is what is called “over packing”:
Believe it or not, a few things came off and out of this pack prior to leaving as I was physically unable to heave this beast onto my back. Learning what to bring, what to leave behind, and what products were the most beneficial in terms of weight and usability were lessons that my husband and I have both learned along the way. We now differentiate “luxury camping” from “packing.” Luxury camping is when you have a short hike or drive to the destination and are able to bring in an ample amount of luxury items such as a blow up mattress, floating devices, and of course an array of alcoholic beverages. Packing is when you are completely self-sufficient and rely on the meager necessities you haul in on your back. As fun as luxury camping is, it is during these packing trips when I am completely disconnected from the outside world that I truly feel relaxed and at peace.
Through trial and error, and over subsequent years and summers, our backing trips became more and more enjoyable as we mastered the basics and started to learn the tricks of the trade. We have explored areas all over the Pacific Northwest and Canada, the Cascade Mountain Range being a favorite of ours because of it’s serene beauty and proximity to our home. One of our favorite places to go every year is an “off the beaten path” trail that winds around the base of the Three Sisters in Central Oregon. This was my first longer trek at higher altitudes. I learned quite a lot on this trip including how to mentally prepare myself for longer trips, how to manage altitude sickness, and other things along the way including the intense need for moleskin.
In a true testament to our love of the outdoors, we went so far as to go backpacking for the first part of our honeymoon. Though not the most romantic way to kick off such a trip, it was memorable nonetheless. When we got into Canada, I experienced the most stunning mountains I had ever seen in my life. The hike up to the top of Idaho peak was fairly moderate with a steep climb the last quarter mile or so to the ranger’s station where we enjoyed breathtaking 360 degree views of the Slocan and Kootenay Rocky Mountain Ranges. Hands down one of the best day hikes I have ever been on.
I look forward to a summer filled with spur-of-the-moment weekend packing trips and longer week trips to get away and just be. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate the solitude that backpacking brings me. There is absolutely nothing I love more for a vacation than escaping to some secluded lake, swimming out to the middle and just floating, treading and taking it all in; being a true part of nature.
The meditative aspects of hiking are one of the primary reasons I do it. Being out in nature, being completely alone and provided the opportunity to sit and think; to reflect upon myself, my goals, my needs, my writing, is the most spiritual experience. I never feel closer to God than when I’m immersed in a lake of snow melt, when I’m perched on a rock overlooking a sparkling expanse of water, soaking in the glorious sun. This feeling of being connected to the earth, of being dependent on mother nature, of being a part of something greater is why I hike.
Nature, and all of it’s elements and moods, truly feeds my soul.