I will admit, it's hard for us to incorporate outdoor activities into our daily lives, especially when we have so many other tasks to complete on a daily basis. This set aside, backpacking has easily been one of the best things that I have pushed myself into doing in my life. Places, sights, smells and everything in between are so abundant between even the smallest of biomes. Every environment is substantially distinct from the last. Experiencing ever-changing environments leads to lots of discovery.
Here are six things that I have learned from backpacking:
1. You become grounded.
A quality backpacking trip will be life-changing to say the least. After most, if not all, of the trips that I have been on, I've come back with a new perspective. Everything seems so unfamiliar yet familiar. This is the beauty of backpacking and being in your own little hiking bubble. I've learned certain things on the trail that can't be taught anywhere else.
2. You learn to take on and challenge fear.
Relying on yourself and what you carry on your back will teach you to learn. It forces you to resort to advanced ideas of solving situations. Unfamiliarity is where we learn to grow the most due to our instinctual nature of survival. It's so easy to fall into temptation and stop hiking, take a break (or even a hammock nap) and fall short of finishing. While obviously this is always acceptable, we won't challenge ourselves by constantly taking the easy way out. We have to push ourselves into uncomfortable situations so that we can grow.
3. You lose attachment to things that aren't needed.
After you hike with 75 pounds of gear on your first trip, you'll realize how important some items really are. Once you understand that so many things are absolutely unnecessary to bring and you slim your gear down, you'll begin applying this to your life more. Backpacking for days at a time teaches that we really don't need a whole lot other than food, water and shelter. We slowly lose our attachment to most items we own because they become irrelevant.
4. You gain an appreciation for the world around you.
Growing up in Ohio, I've had to learn this rather quickly. Any backpacking Ohioan can attest to the fact that a creek the width of a water bottle will forever capture our eyes like a shiny object. Being used to the simplest forms of nature's geological makeup is where I first learned appreciation. It slowly becomes easier and easier to fall into awe with our world once you start looking. Hidden gems are everywhere, and the way our world interacts with itself to stay continuously functional is absolutely phenomenal.
5. You discover more about yourself.
When you hike alone or with a few others, your mind is liberated from all distractions and begins to wander with thoughts and imagination. This allows us to go into deeper conversations within ourselves. After acknowledging these newfound swirling thoughts, you begin to question ideas and learn more about yourself: who you are, your morals and values, and your general stance in life.
6. You learn to be a trailblazer, not a pathfinder.
After breaking the initial scariness of backpacking, you learn to make and travel your own path. Not literally speaking but in a mindset type of way. Trails become a puzzle, and relating this to real life teaches us to set sight on our own visions and to take the paths that lead to them. You learn to solve your own puzzle and how to find your way. You'll become fearless with energy, blazing your own path.
Backpacking really has helped shaped who I am today, and you should start as soon as you can. Wherever you are, find a new place to explore. Live on the edge a little. In my case maybe climb a waterfall every now and again. Start small and continue to go bigger and bigger to explore more.