how a resentment for backpacking turned into a love for backpacking, by EB
This article was written for yooou! by 17-year-old, EB.
Hi! Erika here with my first blog post for yooou!
I recently just got back from a two week trip to Yellowstone National Park where I got to try many new activities: backpacking, outdoor rock climbing, and fly fishing. But it was backpacking that I loved the most for how rewarding it was at the end of the day.
At the start of my trip, I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. I had only ever hiked with a small day pack and oh, did I discover that a backpack was no hiking day pack!
The backpack I slung over my back each day was filled with everything I needed–– or everything I got–– in the Yellowstone backcountry: a few pairs of clothes, part of my tent, basic toiletries, food for myself and the rest of group, and group gear such as stoves, pans, and utensils.
A typical day backpacking started around sunrise so that we could get out early to beat the heat. We alternated between 3 and 8 mile hikes each day that took us to our next camp sites. At the end of the five day trip, I totalled roughly 23 miles through the Yellowstone backcountry. We would usually reach our campsite in the early afternoon and used the time until dinner to swim in the creek that ran along our trail, rest our tired muscles, pitch our tents before it got dark, purify water to stay hydrated, and appreciate the natural solitude we found ourselves surrounded by.
These five days were extremely physically taxing but turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. I got to challenge myself mentally and physically as I carried my 40-pound pack with me each day.
Some days, I would wake up sore and bruised, resenting the pack that sat in front of me and dreading the hike I needed to complete that day. There were definitely moments where I wanted to unclip my pack and lay down in the middle of the trail, but I didn’t and kept myself going through the next stretches for myself and for my group.
What I held on my back did not only contribute to my survival while backpacking but also to the rest of my group. It truly was a group effort; no one would have been able to do it without the others.
I began to not resent the bruises on my hip bones after each stretch of the day because they were evidence that I was carrying my weight–– both physically and figuratively–– in the group.
The backcountry is devoid of cell service, showers, and grocery stores, so the only thing to do is to be present and talk with the people you’re with. I built up connections with my group each day on the hikes and at camp. We bonded through a mutual love for the challenge of trying new things like backpacking; we understood everyone’s experience in the moment and used that understanding to complete the tasks ahead of us.
Backpacking became one of my favorite things to do because I was contributing to a group with great people and doing something that made me feel accomplished. I had to get through an initial resentment where my body and mind were telling me that I couldn’t do it. Once I realized that I could do it and that I––most importantly–– wanted to do it, I loved every moment of my time in the Yellowstone backcountry and everything that backpacking had to offer me.