As new hikers or backpackers, it sometimes feels like we don’t know enough, aren’t fit enough, aren’t fast enough, or courageous enough to go long distance hiking. Most of us hope to throw our loaded packs into the car after work one day, hike off into the sunset, and not return to civilization for an entire weekend, week, or more but…. not all of us know how to get there.
Sometimes the research, the reading, the training and gear shopping before a backpacking trip can be exhausting and you still didn’t feel like it was enough to take on such an ambitiously long and difficult hike.
Today, we want to share a key tip with you on getting ready for your first backpacking trip. Ask yourself this question before you go? WHY ARE YOU GOING? Seems simple enough. But you wouldn’t believe how many people miss this. Why do you want to go and play outdoors when you know you are NOT in control over Mother Nature.
Have a plan, but don’t over think it. You do need to have a few basic things in order first, like having all the gear you need, setting the dates and trail you will hike and planning a menu. But other than that, don’t set in stone every mile marker you will camp at, break at, get water at, etc. Don’t set a schedule of exact times you will wake up, eat, or reach camp at night. Don’t worry if you are ‘good enough’ to be on the trail. Just remember, plan for the big things, and then enjoy the little things.
For your first trip, or few, stay in or very near to your comfort zone. Plan an easy(ish) hike that is relatively close to home and maybe even scout out the trail on a day hike to make sure you’ll have cell phone service and have a peek at the trail conditions. Nobody ever said your first backpacking trip has to be deep into the abyss of the wilderness. Practice.
Allow yourself extra time (and permission!) to go slow in the beginning. A 3 miles on your first day with a fully loaded pack on – that is awesome and something to be proud of. Again, why are you going out there. Goals are so important. Definitely don’t beat yourself about ‘only’ hiking 3 miles or 5 miles. Hike Your Own Hike! Just do whatever your body is comfortable with and then slowly work up from there.
To reach goals you have to set time aside to work on them. So set time aside for YOU. Nothing like a cool hike in the early AM or late PM to get those legs in shape.
What if in 7 weeks you were ready to totally conquer your first backpacking trip or solo hike? How would your life be different? Listen to Episode 171 and 172 to get started. Also visit our GEAR UP page to get all the “how to’s”
As always feel free to ask us questions.