December 8, 2022
Little did I know that those first few trips would be profound mishaps! Once we packed canned food with no can opener. That same trip the four of us had to huddle together, shivering, under one sleeping bag because most of us didn’t think it would get cold in the Smoky Mountains in the Spring. We once planned a five day hike that quickly became a five day hospital visit complete with a broken femur, fractured vertebrae, and a shattered wrist. I honestly had no idea what I was doing.
Something happened within me whenever I stepped into a mountainous landscape. Each time I came back inspired. I’d return home exhausted, yet somehow refreshed. I had a new vigor to face the struggles of work after each excursion. For the first few years, the trips were sporadic. Then they became essential. For nearly a decade, I’ve been going on at least two wilderness adventures a year.
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to go backpacking. However, everyone needs some level of nature, and everyone needs some form of interruption from the day to day grind. For some it’s the occasional porch swing overlooking a field, or fishing on a crisp cool morning. A trip to the beach, or a long bike ride. Whatever form you enjoy, what makes it meaningful for you?
I suppose I haven’t quite grasped what it is entirely that keeps me going back to the wilderness, but here are some things I’ve been able to name so far:
If you feel a sense of longing while reading any of these elements, pay attention to that. That’s your heart telling you that something is missing from your life. If you don’t currently have spaces where these things are happening, it’s time to seek it out. Occasionally someone will hand you something that makes you come alive, most of the time though, it will be up to you to discover it.
Here’s a helpful article if you want to know what’s involved in planning for a backpacking trip.
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