Planning your backpacking trip Vol. 1


Planning your backpacking trip Vol. 1

“It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

— Leonardo da Vinci

Taking action can be really difficult, especially when getting started feels completely overwhelming.  When I started this blog many years ago based on the concept of, “Toward the mountain top inch by inch”, I didn’t quite realize that it was this exact issue that I was really tapping into.

How many times have you had an idea to do something and then, very quickly, you talked yourself out of it?  Your brain convinced you that you didn’t have the knowledge or skills – or that maybe you weren’t deserving of that idea.  Perhaps, your brain politely informed you that “other people” have already done that idea, thereby, making it virtually pointless for you to try.

Think about that for a second.  Think about how different the world would be right now if visionaries tossed away all of their ideas due to negative self-talk?  Not good, right?

I am 100% convinced that the same principles apply with learning a new skill like backpacking.  It’s easy to get completely overwhelmed and just STOP.  I know this, because I have been in those hiking boots before – I have felt what it feels like to have NO FREAKING CLUE what I am doing.  I have suffered as a result of forgetting sunglasses, toilet paper and appropriate SPF sunscreen on a mountain.  Getting started in something, even a new hobby (particularly when it requires thousands of dollars worth of gear), can be tough.

Undeniable proof that I had no clue what I was doing on my first backpacking trip.  Just say no to superfluous gaiter usage.  

Undeniable proof that I had no clue what I was doing on my first backpacking trip.  Just say no to superfluous gaiter usage.

So, what’s the secret to turning your mountaineering/backpacking dreams and ambitions into reality?  It’s pretty simple, and it comes back to the concept of, “inch by inch”.  The next time that you feel a yearning for that trip or come up with an idea to do something or go somewhere – immediately take action.  Now, I’m not talking about throwing your gear in the car and making haste towards the trailhead with no preparation – I’m talking about taking a small step in the right direction.  Maybe you have a personal goal of climbing Mt. Adams – the next time that thought creeps into your mind and starts nagging you, don’t suppress it!  Go online and search for trip reports of a Mt. Adams climb… visit the Forest Service Website for Gifford Pinchot National Forest … reach out to a more experienced climber.  Just don’t let the thought percolate and disappear – ACT on it, even if it is in some tiny, miniscule way.  You don’t need to know everything RIGHT NOW – but all of those tiny steps, over a period of time, will add up into something pretty incredible.

As a backpacking instructor, I remember being told that I had a 4-hour block of time in which to teach a backpacking 101 class.  I remember thinking, “How on EARTH can I possibly fill 4 hours of time?!”.  After teaching my very first class 6 years ago, my only thought was, “How on EARTH can I possibly teach backpacking in ONLY 4 hours???”.  The truth is, I can’t – learning how to backpack is a lifetime process that is constantly evolving and changing – I still learn new techniques and skills with each experience in the wilderness.  But, I have been able to “break down” a trip into a somewhat simple process in order to explain the basic concepts to my class.  I like to think of a backpacking trip like this:

Over the course of the next few weeks I’m planning to share my basic outlines of each segment of these sections.  Once you have the basic framework of how to visualize/plan a trip, we can get into more specifics about gear – keeping in mind that this process works very well for me, but might not work for everybody – so feel free to modify it and take what works best into your own planning/prep style.

With that being said, here are the absolute PRE-PRE-PRE basics that go into planning every trip that I take.  This is extremely basic information, but, if overlooked, can have a massive impact on the success of your trip and your enjoyment level.

In my next post, I’ll take you through the process that I use to research/decide on a feasible plan, and what information that I bring with me so that I can give myself the best possible chance for an incredible, safe experience in the wilderness.

Do you have any dream backpacking trips “percolating” in your mind right now?  What small action step can you take TODAY to inch yourself closer to your goal of making that trip a reality?

Keep climbing!

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