** How backpacking made me a better person

How backpacking made me a better person

Okay, i admit that i am attracted to creature comforts.

I like heat in the wintertime, A/C in the summer, cold food from the refrigerator and instant gratification from my microwave.  I have a special fluffy pillow on the bed that i am partial to and when i slide into my 1000 count Egyptian sheets i expect it to be there.  The remote needs to stay handy, the computer always charged, the car starting on the first try and the list goes on and on.

But what if for one day you had none of those luxuries.  What if when you were cold you had no heat, hot  but you had no relief.  If you got wet when it rained, and there was no comfy bed waiting for you at the end of each day.  What if not only your refrigerator stopped working but you had no food to put in it, what if you had no refrigerator to begin with.  No remote, no tv, no computer, no car.  And it goes on and on.

Some people live every day of their lives like this,  while we often take our own for granted.  Not only are we mildly inconvenienced when things go wrong, often times we are down right pissed.  If we turn on the faucet and no water runs out, well some us act like we have  just severed a limb.  And it’s sad.  We have become so wrapped up that we have forgotten that these are luxuries, not birthrights.  We have become the land of expecting.

I too, guilty as charged.  I am known to wail now and again when things aren’t going as they should, when i think i am being inconvenienced in some manner or another.  But all that changed when i took up backpacking.

There is something very humbling about being in the woods for any extended period of time.  Mother nature has complete control and you are living  in her world now.  You don’t make the decisions, they are made for you, you only can control your reactions to them.  You begin to learn to deal with heat or cold not by taking a quick trip to the thermostat but with ingenuity and resourcefulness.  You learn to deal with rain.  You learn to live in the rain, a little rain won’t kill you.  So you get a little wet, or maybe even a lot.  You are muddy, maybe cold.  You won’t die, I promise you.  But in your real world (outside the forest) you would never be caught in the rain (on purpose anyway).  When you have been cold, wet & muddy for days on end and you awaken from a deep restful slumber only to come to the realization that you must now put your cold, wet, muddy clothes and boots back on for another day you have to reach deep inside to muster the strength.  You begin to question your sanity at what you are doing.  But another glorious day in the bowels of the forest quickly wipes any negative thoughts away.

Backpacking requires you to give up any luxuries that you have grown accustomed to.  You only have what you can carry on your back, and trust me, after carrying your home on your back for a week or more at a time you learn very quickly what you can actually live without.  You begin to understand and have compassion for those who have less than you.  You begin to appreciate your own luxuries, and you really begin to appreciate running water.  There is no better experience than an luxurious hot shower after a long walk in the woods.

After a trip out and i am back home again i have noticed the following:

The heat feels warmer, the air cooler, being dry is good, so is putting on clean dry clothing and shoes.  Food tastes hotter, choices i can make sweeter, hot showers are fabulous!

Laying on the couch flipping through 300 channels of nonsense is wasteful, my computer is a god-send, and the list goes on and on…..

So go ahead, take a long walk in the woods, you may just come back out a totally different person.

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