This post is sponsored by REI. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Welcome Social Media Manager April to the blog today as she discusses how a backpacking trip made her realize she is a Force of Nature.
Backpacking, it’s an interesting concept: carrying everything you need to survive for X amount of days and go off hiking into some sort of wilderness, not really ever knowing what to expect. I myself have only backpacked four times to date, with an attempted fifth trip that ultimately taught me not to be so hard on myself. Three out of those four backpacking trips have also been solo. Thinking that I may be a little crazy? Continue reading…
The very first backpacking trip I did wasn’t until I was 27 years old. I had moved to a new place, was truly alone for the first time in my adult life, and honestly found something liberating about being in nature alone. I was now close to a gorgeous wilderness area that had a 32-mile trail running through it, and after much deliberation and research I decided this was as good of time as any. I would embark on my first backpacking trip over the course of three days and two nights, and I would do it alone. Still to this day I remember my biggest concern being, “am I doing this right?” – as if there was some magical algorithm to backpacking.
Some folks have a negative outlook on solo backpacking, and it seems their opinion only gets stronger when the one embarking on the trek happens to be female. While I can understand or at least entertain these negative opinions I can also share my own opinion, which is that backpacking solo is no more dangerous than driving to work every day. In fact, when I backpack solo I feel more in control. I have planned and prepared and spent hours upon hours researching the trail, asking local experts, reading trail reviews, packing and repacking, and more. I never know what’s going to happen when I get in my car each morning.
Once my feet hit the trail I also have this moment of realizing, “Well, this is it. There’s only one direction to go!” During this particular trek, I started off a little nervous sure, but embracing the force of nature is allowing yourself to feel those emotions. To feel human.
I also allowed myself to stop as needed, snack when feeling low on energy, and truly learn how demanding backpacking is. No one ever said it was going to be easy, and perhaps those previously mentioned negative outsider opinions stem from wondering why a woman would embark on something so challenging. Well, I do it because I am strong. I want to learn, I love a challenge, and when in the wilderness, I am a force of nature.
While on my trek there were many moments of doubt, some moments of pain, but most memorable are all of the moments filled with untouched scenery and solitude. I can vividly remember stopping at each surreal overlook and just getting lost in the distance in front of me. In the end, I hiked about 35 miles (including a couple of side trips), ran into only a couple of other people either on horseback or bike, and finished the trail feeling the most accomplished I ever had in my life at the time. It wasn’t being a female that made me feel strong. And it wasn’t even the number of miles I completed. It was the breath I let out atop Strawberry Point that day knowing what I had just pushed through. Knowing that no one else may ever understand, but that I would be okay with that. I felt strong because I now had these memories engraved in my mind and they will forever be mine.