There is something to be said for anticipation. Having something looming on the calendar and planning and preparing the gear, food, and clothing gives a welcome distraction to the day in and day out routine. Counting down to a trip is like counting down to your birthday or Christmas. With backpacking, we get to go further on less money, yet get to see more and do more with our time.
Backpacking is surprisingly low stress. You wouldn’t think being isolated and in such a physical pursuit would be calming, but somehow it is. Your one task for the day is to get from point A to point B and feed yourself. Everything else is stripped away and your basic primal needs are the only focus requiring attention. Any stress encountered is because we created it. It isn’t thrown at you like our daily jobs, when somehow you must solve 101 problems others lob at you.
We all revel in of the awakening of our senses: the calls of the loons over the water on a lake to ourselves, the subtle change in sunlight as evening approaches, the cacophony of insects that reminds you of your insignificance in number to the smallest creatures out there, and the mesmerizing glow of a campfire and the strong scent it leaves on your clothes and hair. You almost feel like an uninvited guest into the home of nature, where the ebb and flow of existence proves it will go on just fine without your human interference.
Undoubtedly, backpacking allows us time to reconnect and refine and retune our goals as a couple, and family. The time to focus on one another is a litmus test of how the family is fairing at the present stage of life, and where we want to be in the future. You can better assess your happiness or stressors when you walk away from it all and step into the solitude of the woods. The further out you go, the better this all feels. Cutting the cord of civilization forces us to rely on one another.
The sense of accomplishment in completing an isolated backpack feels as good as any achievement might. All the build up of jitters and worry of uncertainty comes full circle when the outline of the vehicle comes back into view.
And the last surprising reason we go hiking isn’t quite what sights and experiences we have away much as it is a reigniting of the joys of home upon our return.
When our homes are so comforting, at times we can forget how glorious warm water is; how nice it is to retrieve water with the lift of a faucet; how comforting your pillows conforming to the curves of your body can be; how fresh and clean a vegetable tastes when you bite through its juicy skin; and how quickly the grass on your property jumps up in just a few days.
Hiking reminds you what it is to just live the day and experience the moment, to truly be alive and present. When you don’t have to worry about the laundry piles or the doldrums of to do lists that are so repetitive and thankless, you can actually remember how blessed you are to take a deep breath and move one foot in front of the other. You have time to reassess your goals and your impact in your small circles of your life. You can feel refreshed to return to your life and attack being the best version of yourself you can.
This is why we hike.