“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
I have always had a love and appreciation for Mother Nature, but became an avid hiker about a year ago after moving to the West, trekking beautiful and diverse landscapes.
Hiking allows me to feel like I am becoming a part of nature and helps dissolve my ego. It is easy to get caught up in work and social life and forget that we are all apart of this beautiful planet as a whole. Hiking shows me so much more than just my own life, stepping outside of my insecurities and fears.
Hiking – Backpacking
During this quarantine time, hiking and getting out into nature has been a saving grace for both my partner and myself. This year has been a wild one and my mental health has suffered from it. At the beginning some days it is a challenge to get out of bed. Hiking and planning new adventures helped provide a new sense of excitement and curiosity. There are endless trails and places to explore, and only so many hours in a day! I found that after an afternoon out I was not ready to leave and head home yet. Backpacking to me just felt like a natural transition.
Physically I underestimated backpacking! I figured because I had done intense hiking I would be a natural. Whoa was I wrong! It is still taking a lot of getting used to having to counter balance a great deal of extra weight!
The elevation and mountain terrain has taken some time to get used to. A hard hike in Florida is a casual walk in Colorado! After moving to Denver in 2019 I began to hike and train for what would turn into backpacking adventures throughout the state!
Backpacking is not for the faint of heart! It takes extreme physical strength and even greater mental strength! Some of the hardest things I am learning to overcome while backpacking are the mental hurdles! Sometimes you can get so far inside of your own thoughts that you just need to be slapped in the face with a branch to snap you out of it! YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.
Here are some things I learned from my first backpacking experience :
Persevere- You are your own worst enemy! Take a break, eat a snack and collect yourself and keep moving forward
Clothes- You are not packing to go on vacation! Both my partner and I over packed on clothing. Every. Ounce. Counts. Does anyone else pack underwear like they’re valuable currency?
- Its important to have a few great versatile pieces of clothing. For a 3-day-2-night trip I wore one outfit, packed one outfit and something to sleep in. We camped along a river and I brought my bathing suit.
- I found a really great pair of REI convertible pants and Adidas Climalite shirt on EBay that really came in handy! These both help to absorb moisture and keep your comfortable. (Peep the shorts in the pic!)
After doing more research and watching a few Youtube videos by Kraig Adams I feel more prepared to do “dirty layering” and only hiking with essentials.
Snacks- I am a notorious snacker, so I figured I would pack more than I needed, better to be safe than sorry, right? I definitely did not eat half of the snacks I packed! I believe it is more important to get quality snacks that will keep you energized instead of having a variety of snacks.
My favorite snacks on the trip:
These are a no brainer!
Clif bars are full of nutrition to keep you energized while being active! I got a 12 pack from Target for a good deal.
These were a yummy sweet treat to give me a boost of flavor on a hot dry day. Also a Target buy.
Classic Trail Mix
You cant go wrong with a classic! A bulk bag can last me multiple hikes! I portioned out a lunch bags worth for this hike and I still had some leftover.
Meal Prepping- I meal prepped a week or so before hand just so I could get that out of the way. I wanted to make sure that we had enough food for an extra day just in case we decided to stay. So I planned meals for 4 days.
After looking back at what we ate and loved and what was easiest I narrowed down our favorites. I am excited to try different things for coming hikes and compare MRE’s to things I package at home.
Here are some meal ideas for individual servings. I doubled these recipes for 2 people.
- Oatmeal Packet, I had cinnamon spice
- 1 Snack Boxed Raisins
- 1 Tbsp Evaporated Milk
- 2/3 Cup Boiling Water
+ 1 Instant Coffee Packet
- Nut Butter
- 4 Pieces of Naan
- Dried Bananas and Raisins
- 1 Cup Chicken Orzo Mix from Sprouts Market
- 1 Can Cooked Chicken
- 1 Cup Cut Broccoli
- 1 Cup Water
+ Instant Lemonade Packet
Things to consider
It is super important to get the weight of your backpack down to a reasonable weight! I wish that I had weighed everything out before going, but I did not own a scale before going on this trip and did not it down and calculate everything. I know that it was in the 30’s lbs. My partners bag was extremely heavy. I compared it to the weight of my 2.5 yr old husky and it definitively weighed more! I would rather be safe than sorry and over pack the first few times until i am confident in what i need and do not need. But this means planning the trip accordingly as well. We planned a trip with a ridiculous altitude gain in a 3 mile stretch, that after a long day of hiking 7 miles to get to we decided to camp for a night and figure things out. There was a beautiful flowing river the entire stretch of this hike which was very calming on what occasionally turned into a very stressful trip!
Weigh each thing if you can! Often you are able to look up the weight of items like gear if you do not own a scale. I wish i knew the exact weight so next time i will be making a list!
It really is worth it to spend more for the things that work better
Favorite Gear So Far
TENT- This time I got a “3 person” Eureka Suma 3 tent and It is worth the extra money. We will be bringing Athena our husky on most trips so need something with space for her! I got this tent from a local new-and-used gear store in Denver called Feral.
It was the most expensive thing we got but damn its comfortable! I have been camping in a “2 person” tent before with my partner and we were very squished and uncomfortable so this was certainly an upgrade.
Least Favorite Gear So Far
Camp stove– I kind of cheaped out and got this small metal wood burning camp stove compared to a portable propane one. This stove gave us more hassle than reward! It took a LOT of small tinder that burned quickly to keep this bad boy burning. One of us was always running to get more!
After one trip I invested in a propane stove.
It has certainly been an adventure pushing myself to new heights! I am proud of the physical feats my body has accomplished. These are just a few of the points I learned from my first backpacking back country trek.
I hope some of these points have helped inspire others to take the steps towards an adventurous life!
Check out a full ongoing review of my hiking and backpacking gear here!
Do you have any tips for beginner backpackers? Any favorite trail foods? Leave a comment below!