8 Important Ideas For Your First Backpacking Journey

My love of backpacking started after I was a teen. Not like taking a day hike, backpacking provided journey as you packed all the pieces you have to spend an evening or extra within the woods in your again and spend the night time sleeping below the celebrities subsequent to a stream, a speeding waterfall, or on a rocky bluff, the sounds of nature surrounding you.

Through the years, life bought in the way in which and there by no means gave the impression to be sufficient time to get away so my love of backpacking was pushed to the backburner. Now that I’ve retired, I’ve the time and wish to strive it once more. Bother is, I am not that spry teenager anymore. My knees pop, snap, and ache. My again is not limber anymore. However the path is looking.

Backpacking is a superb solution to really feel rejuvenated, take you to landscapes and nature that solely a climbing path can, and even problem you. It may be so simple as spending one night time on a path in a neighborhood state park the place they provide backcountry tenting to one thing actually difficult like climbing all the Appalachian Path (AT) from Georgia to Maine.

One factor is for sure: it’s a enjoyable, rewarding, and satisfying sport that these of us over 50 can get pleasure from far into our golden years.

MJ Eberhart (aka Nimblewill Nomad) turned the oldest man to finish the Appalachian Path in 2001

(Photograph Credit score: Joe Cuhaj)

Not satisfied that you just’re by no means too outdated to backpack? Nicely, a superb good friend of mine, MJ Eberhart (higher recognized by his climbing moniker, Nimblewill Nomad) lately accomplished climbing the AT from Alabama to Maine on the age of 83, turning into the oldest man to take action.

Listed here are eight tricks to get you began by yourself journey.

Man stands on top of rock overlooking rolling hills.
“One of many joys of backpacking – breathtaking views.”
(Photograph Credit score: Joe Cuhaj)

1. The Pleasure Of Backpacking Over 50

Apart from exploring nature, there are various different advantages related to backpacking:

  • Being bodily energetic is sweet to your thoughts and physique.
  • It improves your cardiovascular well being.
  • Builds robust muscle tissue.
  • Will increase cognitive perform.
  • It is therapeutic, permitting you to get away from the on a regular basis grind and immerse your self in nature.
  • Builds confidence in your self and your talents.

2. Getting In Form

Earlier than you lace up these boots and set one foot on the path, get to know your physique and your bodily situation, and do not sugarcoat it. Be sincere with your self. Are you having some knee or again aches? Are you a bit obese? How is your thread?

All the time begin your journey along with your private doctor. Inform them what you’re planning on doing and get the low down in your bodily situation. You’ll want to ask their recommendation for getting ready your physique for the adventures forward.

3. Begin With The Fundamentals

You probably have by no means taken even a day hike earlier than, begin by strolling your neighborhood and step by step enhance your distance.

Whenever you’re prepared to maneuver on to one thing more difficult, take your stroll to the closest park or state park and take day hikes of various levels of problem. Once more, start with straightforward trails and work your manner as much as the harder however remember to take hikes which have one thing of curiosity to spur you on like a waterfall, panoramic view, or historical past.

From there, it is time to begin taking straightforward in a single day treks. Utilizing the identical course of, construct your self as much as longer stays within the woods. However earlier than you are able to do that overnighter, you have to get some primary gear and perform a little extra planning.

4. Gear Fundamentals

You must keep in mind that you’ll be carrying all the pieces you want in your again. Many individuals surrender backpacking after their first journey as a result of they carry actually all the pieces — forged iron skillets, giant four-person tents, radios, you identify it. It is not good and is normally the top of their backpacking adventures.

The concept is to strike a stability between packing gentle and nonetheless being comfy. There’s a science to purchasing the precise gear to your journey — tents, sleeping baggage, meals, and so on. The American Mountaineering Society is likely one of the greatest sources for studying the intricacies concerned in making the very best selections for backpacking gear and making your first backpacking journey satisfying and cozy.

There are a couple of necessities you have to actually give attention to. The primary is water, a backpacker’s greatest good friend and worst enemy.

It is the hiker’s greatest good friend as a result of ingesting sufficient water on a hike is crucial to maintain you hydrated and wholesome. It is their worst enemy as a result of it is rather heavy to hold.

rule of thumb is to drink one half-liter of water per hour of reasonable exercise in reasonable temperatures. Enhance or lower the quantity relying on the hike’s problem and the surface temperature. You’ll want to add electrolytes to your water to assist with hydration.

Don’t drink from any water supply on the path with out first purifying it both via a filter or with chemical substances. Sicknesses from water-borne germs like giardia should not a laughing matter. Whereas it’s treatable and infrequently deadly, the bodily toll it takes in your physique shouldn’t be enjoyable.

Discuss with the native clothes shop about water filters to your pack or water bottle. The go-to journal for backpackers, Backpacker Journaldoes an annual evaluate of the newest filters that may even aid you make the precise alternative.

All the time carry primary communications — a cellphone and GPS unit. Cell telephones are OK to some extent, however you’re by no means positive if you’ll have a sign or not, and naturally, the batteries die.

Do not ever use your telephone as a GPS gadget. Once more, lack of sign is the issue and might go away you stranded out within the backcountry. It additionally drains batteries shortly. As an alternative, go for a GPS gadget. Costs begin at $100 for the fundamental Garmin GPS Map 64ST.

Even with a superb GPS unit (and having discovered methods to use it), there may be nonetheless one factor it’s best to study earlier than your large journey…

5. Be taught Orienteering

A GPS is sweet, however you possibly can nonetheless lose the sign or the batteries can die. It is a good suggestion to study orienteering — using a conventional map and compass. Oh, and remember to carry them with you in your hike.

Nationwide topographic maps for wherever within the nation can be found on-line from the US Geological Survey in addition to native outfitters who can instruct you on the artwork of orienteering or information you to somebody who can train you.

Campers stand around the campfire.
Writer, Joe, preparing for an evening on the path with associates round a campfire.
(Photograph Credit score: Joe Cuhaj)

6. Make Knowledgeable Selections About Your Trek

As you see, planning is all the pieces for a profitable backpacking journey. However there may be extra to it than simply the gear you carry.

After all, you wish to make your backpacking journey memorable and expertise all that nature has to supply, however you have to know your limits.

Good path guides and maps will inform you the diploma of problem of a path. However that’s all subjective and normally is predicated on the writer’s expertise and situation, which will not be the identical as yours.

With a superb path information like these discovered on AllTrails or an app, you possibly can take a look at the map and the accompanying elevation achieve to get a way of what sort of climbing you’re in for on the hike you select to take.

Additionally think about the size of the hike. Positive, the typical individual can stroll 2 or 2.5-miles an hour on stage floor, however add in climbing ridges and mountains and fording streams, and except you’re in high situation, your pace will drop considerably and a shorter distance in a single day hike could also be so as.

Find water sources alongside the path earlier than you head out. Are there loads of streams and comes the place you possibly can filter water? That may assist lighten the load, however nonetheless at all times carry a lot with you. You by no means know when that water supply might be dry.

7. Be Climate Smart

Verify the climate earlier than heading out. If extreme storms are predicted, do not probability it.

Hikers, walk across a wooden bridge into the woods.
“Take a day hike along with your gear to strive it out earlier than doing an in a single day backpacking journey.”
(Photograph Credit score: Joe Cuhaj)

8. Last Ideas Earlier than You Hit The Path

By no means hike alone. I’ve many backpacking associates who go solo, but it surely’s not a good suggestion. Emergencies occur on the path and having somebody with you can be the distinction between life and loss of life.

Pack alongside a primary help package and know methods to use it.

Wherever you go, let others know of your plans — when you’ll be on the trailhead, what route you’re taking on the path, the place you’ll be spending the night time, and what time they’ll count on you to return residence.

Earlier than going in your first in a single day, think about doing a shakedown hike of your gear. Load your pack with all the pieces you intend on taking with you and do a day hike via a neighborhood park or state park. Stroll a distance. Is the pack comfy or too heavy? Take the gear out and check out it to ensure it really works and that it’s not too troublesome to function on the path.

And with that, you’re able to lace up the boots, strap on the pack, seize the climbing poles, and take your first backpacking journey. Comfortable trails!

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