Personal Goal #5: To get as many people as I can to fall in love with backpacking and camping by the end of this decade.
When I was first introduced to the idea of backpacking back in 2009, I was pretty dismissive. I couldn’t imagine carrying a heavy load of gear on my back while attempting to hike up a mountain into the wilderness. I thought I’d probably pass out from over-exhaustion within the first mile. Fast forward over five years later: I would now like to say that I’m an “advanced beginner” backpacker and traveler, and a “professional” car camper: hire me and I can plan your trips – from the campsites you should reserve down to what kind of garnish you’d like on your butter corn ramen dinner.
And to be real – while backpacking, camping, and traveling are usually stereotyped as being activities that only people from privileged backgrounds do, this is actually not true. Our peoples were born travelers and backpackers (but they didn’t call it that). When I go camping, I often find myself saying what’s up to families from more modest backgrounds that are also folks of color. My parents took me and my sisters on many camping trips when we were growing up because: 1) My dad loved it (he got into the boy scouts for free as a kid), and 2) It was a cheap and easy way to have a family vacation.
Being out on the land can be an incredibly grounding experience. I put life into perspective when I venture outside of my usual realities. Being out here has allowed me to understand myself and appreciate our environment with a lot more clarity and wisdom. There’s no cell phone reception, no meeting to go to, no TPS report to turn in, no white noise. Everything becomes much simpler. The basic resources and activities that we so often take for granted take on a whole new meaning out there. All that’s left is you and the real things that matter: eating, sleeping, traveling…shitting in a hole in the ground. It’s like an extended meditation, a days-long mindfulness practice. I highly recommend it.
I’d have to say that for most of my life, I thought of myself as a pretty weak person. After learning how to lead backpacking trips and navigating other continents by myself however, I’ve found that you sometimes gotta push yourself to do all the things you once told yourself ‘you could never do’ if you want to grow and become more resilient. My newfound mantra of ”give less of a f***” has also served me very well this year. I highly recommend adopting that mindset too.