Hello! I’m so honored that Lindsay is allowing me a little time to share something very special with all her awesome readers. When I saw her call for posts about “The Best Decision I Ever Made” I didn’t even have to think about mine.
Whenever I start talking about this particular subject, I feel like I need to introduce myself as if I’m in a support group. Hello, my name is Natalie, and I’m addicted to backpacking.
I routinely strap a thirty pound pack on back, and haul myself up mountains. I sleep on the ground, and eat nothing that requires newfangled technology like refrigeration. I go for multiple days without showering, and have gotten very used to using nature’s facilities. I have hobbled for miles on a knee that just couldn’t go anymore (I do not recommend that!), gotten scabs on my hips from my backpack straps, and lost two toenails on a memorable trip that ended in a visit to Urgent Care. And here’s my little secret. I love every minute of it.
I haven’t always felt that way. My husband had been backpacking a few times, but I thought that was going to be his “guy thing”. It used to sound as crazy to me as I’m sure it does to some of you. If someone had told me that backpacking would become something I start to plan whole vacations around, I would’ve laughed them out of the room. That all changed in the spring 2010 with a simple decision to enjoy a truly beautiful day. My husband and I headed to a local state park for some day hiking, and, at the top of one of the hills we had climbed, I told him it might not be so bad to go on an overnight trip. Looking back, I blame it on an adrenaline rush!
That first overnight trip near our home in Oklahoma quickly spiraled into longer trips that have taken us to Glacier National Park, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. In the three years since, backpacking has become my passion. There is nothing quite like the feeling you experience when you realize you’re surviving completely on what you can carry on your back or the beauty of the backcountry that relatively few people will ever see.
Backpacking gives me a sense of self-confidence that was missing before. It has taught me what it means to be both physically and mentally strong, and has shown me that I am capable of far more than I thought. That’s a gift I’ll carry with me long after I’m forced to hang up my boots (not that I intend that to be any time soon!)
For now, there are always new trails to explore and another mountain to climb. I’m always on the lookout for the next awesome trip, and my husband and I even dream about someday backpacking the Continental Divide which is a 3,000 mile trail that stretches from the Mexican border to the Canadian. Of course, we’re going to have to figure out how to get that much time off work first! In the meantime, we’ll be embarking on a 150 mile section of the Colorado Trail this summer. Ten nights, no shower? Sounds like heaven to me!