Being outdoors teaches us a lot of things. Though we learn certain skills, anyone can really learn how to pitch a tent or how to start a fire. We can all learn how to figure out public transportation or bits and pieces of language when backpacking in a foreign country. However, there’s certain lessons that only a true backpacker learns after a lot of experience outdoors:
Showers are overrated:
Though you can take a shower during a backpacking trip, you’ll never really be as squeaky clean as you would if you were back home. Eventually, you’ll start to realize that the hassle it takes to be able to get clean is almost worth not showering at all. Yes, it’s important to be hygienic, but it’s only a matter of time before you’re dirty again. You won’t take showers for granted ever again, but you will learn to be without them.
You can always get a new one:
There’s of course some gear that cannot be replaced so easily, either because it cost a lot or it’s really important to have. However, no matter what kind of backpacking trip you’re on, you’ll quickly learn that you’re not so attached to things as you may have once been. Those socks? That cool toothbrush holder? You can always get another one.
Eating is a necessity, not a luxury:
When we are constantly working and in our routines, we revolve our lives around food. We make sure we have enough time in the morning to eat breakfast. We have a lunch break. We meet friends for dinner, or we plan what we’re going to cook. While backpacking, it’s likely that you almost forget you have to eat until you get hungry or you realize it’s been a few hours since you’ve last eaten. You feed yourself not necessarily because you want to, but because you have to. Especially because some of those backpacking meals aren’t always a 5 star meal, anyway.
Backpacking friends are the best of friends:
If you love being outdoors as much as you say you do, then it’s likely you have friends that feel the same way. If not, you’re definitely in search of them. Once you’ve experienced the joy that backpacking can offer, it’s kind of hard to hang out with people that can’t at least see it’s beauty. Unless you can convince your friends to come backpacking, you’ll start to lean more towards people who have similar interests as you, and you’ll find that it’ll get you outside even more.
You’re stronger than you think:
No matter how tiny or weak you are, backpacking teaches us how much we can surprise ourselves. Yeah, perhaps your backpack may be the same size of you (if it is, then pack lighter!), but at the end of the day, you carried it without any problems. It may have been uncomfortable at times, but it wasn’t impossible.
Giving up is not an option:
We’ve all been through it before. We’re a mile or two from ending the hike, and we just can’t seem to take another step. Or, we’ve been climbing up that mountain all day, but the sun has just gotten so hot. Somehow, though, you still managed to complete the hike, and you wonder why you ever doubted yourself in the first place. That, my friends, is one of the most important lessons of backpacking, that can be applied to so many other aspects of life.
There’s always more:
Backpacking is a great sport and hobby because it doesn’t end after you finished your hike. While you still get the glorious sense of achievement, the amazing thing about it is there’s always more. More hikes to see, more mountains to climb, more weather to try and brave. Once you finish all there is to see in your country (which will take a long time), there’s tons of backpacking destinations to explore around the world. Each one is different than the last, and you’ll never, ever get bored of it.
Time is non-existent:
Time, in a lot of ways, controls our lives. It can make us feel stressed when we are so focused on not having enough of it. In a typical 24 hour a day, we find ourselves looking at the clock, wondering when something is going to start or finish. When you’re out in the backcountry however, it’s so easy to just let time pass you by without a worry in the world.
The world is still a beautiful place:
There’s a lot of crazy things happening in the world. Getting outdoors helps remind us that the world is still a beautiful place, despite the problems we hear about each and every day. When you escape the media for a little while and connect with nature and people, we are reminded that we can trust the kindness of strangers, enjoy the smell of flowers, and realize that we aren’t as ‘doomed’ as we think we are.
Backpacking teaches you a lot of practical skills about being outdoors, but its these type of lessons that you can only get from experiencing the backcountry again and again.