Since then, we have changed most of our gear at least once, and have grown to love backpacking more and more.
We typically take trips from Southeastern Virginia with our Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers Meetup group, but are aiming to do more trips on our own. For us, trips are mostly two to three nights in the mountains of Virginia or West Virginia.
Now on to my blog article!
Do you watch YouTube videos, read blogs and forum posts from other backpackers, and find yourself wondering - how do they do it?
I suffered an inferiority complex for quite some time as I moved from the total beginner to the somewhat competent level. From my experience, I have now come to understand that just being a backpacker is awesome, and you should too!
For all of us who backpack at any ability level, there will always be someone who takes nicer trips, hikes farther per day, has lighter gear than ours and knows how to do it all on the trail. It's very easy to get caught up in this "wow, look at that guy!" mentality.
As someone who struggles with all of these things, it gave me lots of self-doubt for the longest time. Instead of enjoying my trip, I would spend a lot of it fretting over my inadequacies.
I used to concentrate on how I was "different" from the more ‘elite’ backpackers. For example, as compared to an ultra-lighter, I am carrying at least 1/3 more weight, hiking half as fast and going about half the distance per day.
Then I realized, instead of thinking of how I’m different from elite backpackers, I should focus on the similarities and things we have in common, such as:
a love of the outdoors, an obsession with trip planning and gear research. And perhaps most importantly, a love of telling war stories about that time when we overcame adversity, saw a bear, or pitched our tent in record time during a raging thunderstorm.
Once this attitude shift happened, I realized backpacking is not about how light, fast, or far you can go. No, it's about getting away from our every day, hum-drum routine, to take in the sights and sounds of the forest.
Sure, going faster, farther, and lighter are all worthy goals, but not at the exclusion of the thrill of backpacking at its primal level.
Fun is there for us to have.
I would challenge all of you, myself included, to step back and realize how lucky we are to live in a country that actually allows backpacking. Make an effort to avoid envy and feelings of inferiority.
Will you promise to join me in enjoying the journey more, and not to be so concerned about the things that don't matter much?
I hope to see you on the trail,
Did you share this on Facebook or Twitter? Go ahead!