143 forum posts
This is something I wanted to share and I apologize in advance if the topic ends up long. But I have a lot on my mind.
The fact is, backpacking/hiking has changed my life over the last two years. I even have a couple of members on this site I'd like to thank for helping me along indirectly, that's Gonzan and Troutspace. A hike I shared with them in February made me look deep into myself. The result? Since February I have lost 41 pounds, going from 220 to 179. I've gone from an xtra large shirt to a medium. And I feel the best in my life.
But more on that later. What I want to do now is share my backstory and how I've gotten to this point.
When I was kid, I used to run through some woods a lot that were down the street from my house. I played explorer in these woods and they were a big part of me growing up in suburbia. When I was 10, we moved to another house and the first thing I did was find some more woods down the street to play in. I remember when we first talked about moving the biggest excitement I felt was knowing there were some woods even closer and even bigger. I turned 16, had a car and growing up at the foothills of the Smokies, I started going there religiously. The mountains and forests have always been part of my life.
When I turned 18, I went into the army. I kind of became lost. Like most kids in their teens and early 20s, I became more infatuated with partying than getting out in the woods. I was stationed in El Paso, Texas for awhile. I was within spitting distance of Big Bend, great New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona trails but never experienced them. I didn't figure it out until my last six months there and by that time it was too late. I still look back at that with regret.
But I left the army, went to college, partied, studied and spent most of my time on other things. I took a couple of backpacking trips, but not many. At the time, I didn't realize how important being in nature was important to me. At the same time, I began to gain weight. In the army, I was around 175. Within a year after leaving I was 210. I kept gaining.
I graduated college, got married and woke up one day and got on the scale. I was 270. Closer to 300 then 200. I got a bike and started doing some exercise. That was six years ago. I went from 270 to about 230. Lost a few more pounds over the years and got to 225. Then two years ago, I made the big decision that has affected my life today.
I woke up one morning two years ago and realized I needed backpacking. Not wanted. Needed. I realized I had a void in my life and needed it filled. Most of my backpacking equipment had been lost over the years. I started from scratch and that winter I pieced together my backpacking equipment. Last year, I planned a backpacking trip up in the Smokies. I started training for it. I went from 225 to 205. I did the hike. I felt reenergized. I made a few more hikes. But the summer came, it got too hot to hike and I got in a rut. Last winter, I gained again. Did a great hike up in the Smokies in the snow in January and then I went on the hike with Gonzan and Trouthunter in February to Fiery Gizzard.
At the time, I weighed 220. We did the hike, I got through it and I don't think I weighed those two guys too heavily, but I still felt I kind of weighed them down some. I felt like I could do better. I needed to be better. One of the reasons I wanted to lose weight was just not to "lose weight." It was too hike longer and farther. Get to more destinations. Feel like I could go out for three day hikes or longer without killing myself and feeling completely fatigued. But the biggest reason is and was for my two children. I want to be in shape to get them out backpacking with me. When they get older and in their teens, I don't want to be the guy who can't keep up with them.
So, I got in the gym and started working out. I upped what I was doing month to month. I now love going to the gym. Why? Because it propels me into the outdoor activities I love to do. I can now mountain bike for 20 miles. I'm doing a trail run this weekend through obstacles and have another one planned next month. I'm going backpacking in a month and I can't wait to see how I feel climbing up a mountain to the camp site. I'm taking my oldest daughter who is four backpacking soon and I feel good that I'm not going to be huffing it on the way to our campsite.
I feel better now than I did in my 20s or teens. I'm 36 now and feel like I have a new life. And it's all because of backpacking and being out in nature.
And for once, I finally feel like I have found myself.