How or when did you first gain an interest in backcountry travel?

4:56 p.m. on July 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I started going camping with friends when I was in middle school.

We lived in a neighborhood near Charleston SC that was bordered on two sides by a forested swamp. There was a great deal of solid ground to explore and several trails that wound through the area.

We often went on overnight trips with whatever gear we could round up or borrow. We always had a blast!

This interest soon turned into a need to go farther and explore different areas. After high school I moved to TN and soon began hiking trails in the mountains. I remember seeing my first waterfall, and hiking up to my first overlook. I was hooked for life!

What's your story?

5:19 p.m. on July 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I went on my first backpacking trip in 1946, the summer after my father got out of the Navy after WW-II. We went into the Sierra over Kersarge Pass and spent a week fishing and hiking upper Bubbs Creek. I really liked it and my folks and I continued to do this untill we moved to the PNW. Shortly after my arrival in Seattle in 1952, I got involved in the Mountaineers climbing school and have been climbing and backpacking ever since. I worked in forestry for 30 years so also got out a lot with my work. I'm in my 70's now and my adventures are far less ambitious but I plan to continue as long as I can, even if I need a walker.

5:52 p.m. on July 26, 2009 (EDT)
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Growing up in Iowa there was no big hiking trails. My family car camped all over the US. Last year, at the age of 52 I moved out to the PNW. My eyes opened to the wide frontier of trees, lakes and mnts. Had to ask the NFS 3 times if it was ok to hike and camp. It is new to me, but on the other hand I knew all about LNT from my dad. And we had camped in bear country before, so I'm not compleatly lost in this new environment But at my age and being a newbe, I push my limits very little. I wish that I was in my late 20s again. I'm sure I would be pushing myself hard. But it isnt bad, I enjoy it very much.

9:39 p.m. on July 26, 2009 (EDT)
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I started my first hikes with the boy scouts then on my own when I was 21 when I traveled around the USA for the first time in 1977.

But my very first hiking trips were in Alaska's Denali National Park in the summers of 1978-79. After that I was hooked.

1:01 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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According to the photos my parents took, they were taking me into the woods and hills (and desert and jungles) by no later than 6 months old (earliest dated photo I have from them showing me on a horsepacking trip would have been at 6 months). Similar situation for Barb (except no jungles for her until after we were married). So neither of us can really remember when we "gained an interest" - we were both "always out there", though maybe more so for me, since the desert wilderness was just a hundred feet out the back door.

2:24 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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I can't really say when I first gain an interest's but think it was bread into me. As far back as I remember we were always involved in something.

9:46 a.m. on July 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Family moved to Colorado Springs when I was 8. My Father thought it time for some 'bonding' so we took the cog rail up Pikes Peak (tour car down). The conductor/tour guide pointed out the 'hard way' via the trail head as we passed it. At the top somebody pointed out the trail ending in the parking lot - looked plenty easy to me. I asked my dad if we could do the peak up the trail next time. His response was on the order of, "Tell ya what. You do it and I'll watch". This, to me, was my authorization to get on with it.

About 2 weeks later, an early morning bus ride up to Manitou Springs and a mile walk up to the cog rail way station put me on the trail. I remember packing a PB/J sandwich a couple of candy bars and a small pocket knife in jacket and pants pockets and the canvas covered GI canteen proudly displayed hanging from my belt. I, of course, left no itinerary or my plans for the day with anybody who would have cared. Somethings are just not that important to a kid.

An 8 yo takes a different approach to hiking alone. Lots of things to do and see on the way, but by nightfall I had made it to Barr Camp (about 6 miles) where I found a couple just finishing supper. After I explained why I was so hungry and couldn't really get back to my parents camp (and quit bugging us), I was invited to finish off a couple of cans of chilli and maybe beef hash. The husband made off down hill in the dark to tell the police to quit looking. Wonderful memory of curling up in HIS bag with her telling me some kind of a story about mountains and that I really shouldn't do this without telling somebody. I only remember a little of first part and not a bit of the last part. I was awake maybe 30 seconds after I got in the bag.

There is more to this introductory story (including the husband being 'detained' in custody until I was found), but the short ending is (after being released from an extended detention in my bedroom) I spent the next 7 years (temporary gigs) with this couple backpacking all over Colorado and Wyoming.

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