What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you toostart

12:34 a.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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For me it started in phases. for about 10years I'd done nothing but work sleep church and nothing else. But I'd occasionally take a day ride it was about all I could afford and I missed being in the woods. Then one year I took a vacation to North Carolina and while there took a train ride out of Bryson city or Dillsboro and half way thru at the turn around point they let us off the train for a couple of hours at one of the prettiest stop I'd ever seen a fabulous river with kayakers a stone store and as I was entering 3 backpackers sitting exausted on the sidewalk next to the store. In side was the most wondrously exciting things I'd ever laid eyes on backpacks and tents and everything else a boy could want but the amazing thing was that they were in every color shape and size you could imagine. Were not all back packs army green and tent made out of canvas and all knives of any consequence made by case, buck, uncle Henry, or Barlow?

well I'll tell you this little boy in his late 30s just found a store he liked better than the hardware store and as I was getting back on the train I saw the sign for the AT huts then all of the simple heavenly views that the mountains offer on the ride back. And then file it all away in the back of my mind. The next year I took my niece a sister on that ride and I pondered on it all.

well back to normality and work sleep church and an occasional day trip. Then one day going stir crazy I bought a book The Most Scenic Drives in America and they had a place called De Soto falls but you had to hike 3 miles to see them. So I said to myself I like waterfalls and set about making plans to go went to Wally World bought a fanny pack with 2 water bottles and a walking stick and off on another day ride. Wow more beautiful mountains and another fantastic stream. Now I was in fantastic shape but after a 1/2 mile my tongues dragging the ground (didn't know about altitude at that time) well they had a bench there and as I sat there looking at this wonderful conifer forest that looked like giant Christmas trees in the cool crip air I said to myelf I like hiking and as I was catching my breath I realized I love this clean cold unspoiled forest and I'd finally found something to fill the void because my mind put 2 and 2 together the hike store and all that exciting stuff and my love of the outdoors 

more than a decade later it still is the most satisfying hobby even when your not feeling it the calm quiet and wonder of the marriage between a 50year old little boy his hiking toys and the great vast outdoors play ground always awakens my imagination 

My friends as we begin this new year I certainly hope it's doing the same for you!

7:59 a.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

I always liked the outdoors from a very early age. But it was Scouting that turned me on to backpacking. My Dad was military, and Scouting was my Mom's way of keeping my brother and I from being the total hellions we were on course to be. We took to it, and no matter how frequently we moved around, scouting and little league were "constants" we could always rely on from station to station.

My first backpacking overnight trip was at age 14 with a scouting group. By age 15, the scouting trips weren't frequent enough and I had earned enough trust with my folks to begin going on trips with friends, usually older friends that could drive distances.  We would often go for a week at a time, sometimes 2 weeks. Even then, my bush skills were more developed than my backpacking companions , ... courtesy of my father's teachings, and my Cherokee grandmother's wisdoms of plants and animals.

As I became a father, and worked to support a family, I traveled less and less, but I never lost the craving to be outdoors or the challenge of being in it.  Now that my children are out of college and "off the payroll," I have resumed my backpacking habit with gusto. I've even convinced my wife of 30+ years to accompany me on the occasional excursion ... no small feat in itself.

Backpacking is different now, some forty years later - harder in some ways, easier in others. But the inner peace I find in having solitude with the wilderness is something that satisfies something in my soul .... and makes me whole, as though I'm connecting with my past in a way I cannot describe.  I feel blessed that my health allows me this pursuit at the still young age of 57.

Safe travels and Cheers!

10:03 a.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

My dad was a ranger, so I grew up in the Sierra.  Went with my older sister on a backpacking trip in Kings Canyon when I was about twelve...worked as an outdoor specialist at a camp in college.

Now, after raising two kids and on the verge of retirement, looking forward to being able to spend even more time on the trail.

11:18 a.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

My Dad told us his stories of backpacking starting in the 1930s.  He had some equipment hanging on the wall in the garage. I got a chance to join the Boy Scouts at age 10 in 1960.  We learned to cook and hike on our own. Then I started doing overnight trips with my friends soon afterward without adults beginning in junior high school. Later I studied forestry and went on to solo trips in the Cascades.

4:04 p.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

Stepping off the train in Tucson, as I arrived for my sophomore year, I was greatly intrigued by the vistas of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  I hooked up with the school's hiking club, made good friends. Gradually longer day hikes led to tentative overnights, with what today would be hideously inappropriate equipment.  I also started poking around in caves, and was exposed to technical climbing, which I found to be fun, challenging, and of use in my chosen field of archaeology.

Most of nights were spent under poncho tarps or natural overhangs.  It was some time before I purchased a surplus army mountain tent, and even longer before I owned a decent, reasonably lightweight shelter.  Tarps work quite well in most conditions.

7:38 p.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

I had always done a little backpacking as a kid, just me and a few friends wandering off into the woods and camping out for the night. That slowly evolved into being an avid fisherman and hunter as well. At seventeen I joined the Navy, and spent about nine years of my life there. When I got out I just needed some time to collect and find myself, and I loaded up a pack with gear and started walking.

The years that followed my time in the Navy saw me taking multiple trips a month. That has all but ground to a halt in comparison now that I have a young child. But as he gets bigger we have begun taking more and more trips. I hope he takes as strong a liking to it as me. The wilderness truly saved me, and continues to always center my being and rejuvenate me to this day.

8:06 p.m. on January 8, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

Hunting and fishing with Dad. Mom taking me out to gather wild edibles, morels, ramps, creek lettuce etc. Joined cub scouts in elementary school, didn't get to hike any but it got me Boys life magazine. I think that's what planted the seed and I couldn't wait until I was old enough to join the Boy scouts. As the kids got older the time for hiking became rare but as they got out of high school and on to college I had more time for me. Getting organized for a two night three day run right now.

9:43 a.m. on January 9, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

As a child some of my baby pictures were takin in North Carolina..We moved after my fathers retirement from the military to New York where his family was..We participated in (PAL) Police athlectic leagues and they had a camp..We then moved to New Jersey where my older brothers joined boy scouts by the urging of their peers and one of the assistant scout masters Bill Moyer was a WW2 vet and knew my family from veteran orgs..I became a cub scout under Mr Moyers wife who was the Den mother..I worked my way up through scouting and we took family trips around the country camping and Backpacking and paddling with my brothers..I joined the military and continued backpacking and outdoor sports my whole career..I joined the outdoor club in college and continued camping and backpacking with them during springbreaks..I just stuck with it cause I enjoyed being outdoors more than in...My dad took trips with us until his work schedule changed in the late nineties...But yeah its always been a part of me...

1:07 p.m. on January 9, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

I wanted to go after my dad told us stories about when he backpacked after high school. 

I became interested in climbing after watching an old-school slide show (it was the 980s after all) that my teacher showed of his Mt. Adams and Rainier climbs. 

12:17 a.m. on January 11, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

I am the only outdoorsman in my family.  Thus any past times and associated sentimentalism I come by were largely of my own inventions.  I grew up on the suburbia/rural interface, and being outdoors came as a matter of fact.  Thus I joined Boy Scouts as soon and age permitted, member in a troop that did almost monthly hiking trips.  I was athletic; I took up XC sking to extend access in the mountains into the fourth season; learned some rock and ice technique to further extend.  Challenge was once part of the rubic; nevertheless the sheer joy in nature's beauty has always remained a central reason to being outdoors.

Ed 

 

3:22 a.m. on January 11, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

Funny you should ask. Here's an excerpt from my eulogy for my father, Lee, who passed away in November:

"Sometime during that summer [when I turned 16] we decided to drive up to White Mountains for a day hike, something I had never really done before. Nan [my stepmother] suggested Mount Chocorua near Tamworth as a good starter peak. I don’t recall who all else was along; it might have been just the two of us. But I do recall feeling the world opening up a little for me as we approached Chocorua’s rocky, open summit on that warm summer day, the rocks spotted with other hikers on their way up or down or taking a break in the sun. For me that easy day hike was a turning point, the beginning of a lifelong pursuit. The idea that you could just walk, under your own power, away from roads and up to high places with long, wrinkled horizons was transformative. I wanted more.

Later that summer we tried our first two-night backpacking trip, a major misadventure in mostly foul weather with many lessons learned. The story continues from there, with many more hikes shared with Lee, adventures out west, summer jobs doing trail work, a job as a hutkeeper in New Zealand, where Lee came to hike and tour with me for a few weeks, even trekking in the Himalayas, and in time weekend and weeks-long trips with my own family."

That's how it all began. 

6:47 a.m. on January 11, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

It's really neat to see how we've all come to the same place most of us thru outdoor pursuits such as the scouts, hunting, fishing, or grew up with relatives that were into it. And all of those fit me also. It is also cool to see how those of us who had been away rediscovered out roots and came back to our love for Gods wonderful creation. 

Cool life stories guys keep them coming. I like hearing how our perspectives and circumstances over lap and got us on the same path.

6:47 a.m. on January 11, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

It's really neat to see how we've all come to the same place most of us thru outdoor pursuits such as the scouts, hunting, fishing, or grew up with relatives that were into it. And all of those fit me also. It is also cool to see how those of us who had been away rediscovered out roots and came back to our love for Gods wonderful creation. 

Cool life stories guys keep them coming. I like hearing how our perspectives and circumstances over lap and got us on the same path.

6:49 a.m. on January 11, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

It's really neat to see how we've all come to the same place most of us thru outdoor pursuits such as the scouts, hunting, fishing, or grew up with relatives that were into it. And all of those fit me also. It is also cool to see how those of us who had been away rediscovered out roots and came back to our love for Gods wonderful creation. 

Cool life stories guys keep them coming. I like hearing how our perspectives and circumstances over lap and got us on the same path.

6:25 p.m. on January 13, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

i started hiking with my family - mom, dad, brother, sister - when i was young, in grade school.  we started backpacking and overnighting when i was around 13.  i got more interested and really expanded my involvement in college - either through a college outing club or more often on extended hikes with friends and family in the white mountains and green mountains (new hampshire and vermont).  i also spent a few summers guiding teenagers, via a summer camp program, on hikes and canoe and cycling trips in the adirondacks.  Been in love with it since.  

our oldest started college this year.  he's not yet as into hiking, but he has done his share over the years.  He chose to go on a week hiking trip through the college along a trail next to Lake Superior, prior to orientation.  our daughters (16 and 13) and i hike together quite a bit locally and sometimes on vacations.  i don't think this is an accident.  getting into it young, gaining self-confidence in one's ability to do the hike and handle the wrinkles that go with the terrain and the weather, can be really good for young people. 

1:22 p.m. on January 14, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

My start and progression in phases to where I am now (mostly solo trips):

  • 1970s - Intro to day hiking: Walking the Highlands of Scotland with my grandfather
  • Early 80s - Intro to backpacking - Boy Scouts (2 trips before being gently pushed out as I had no apparent interest in badges and only showed up for the trip planning and trips)
  • Mid 80s - High school english teacher taught Outdoor Education - learned some skills and really started planning backpacking trips on my own
  • Late 80s - The beginning of my solo years mixed with trips with friends
  • 1990s - Solo years then and ever since with a few kid/wife trips mixed in here and there.

Nice topic and stories folks.

12:35 p.m. on January 15, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

My folks spent every weekend in the outdoors for a year after WWII. We heard those stories for years as little kids. We were camping by the time we were a few months old. Our Boy Scout troop was not much for "advancement or achievement."  But we had an overnight trip at least once a month year around. Most of the winter trips were in somebody's barn,  It taught me to appreciate the outdoors in all seasons. Then I started sleeping in the back yard with a fire in jr and sr high school. By college we were doing winter trips. Then I started an outdoor career.

12:43 a.m. on January 18, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

Igrew up in the outdoors, started camping with friends along the creeks and ponds near our homes. I started backpacking in Boy Scouts in upstate NY and northern California. But I really got into backpacking first on a 8000 mile hitchhike around the USA in 1977 when I was 21. After carrying all my gear on my back for four months on the road I got hooked into the freedom of being independent and able to do what I wanted to to and be outdoors away from civilization for months on end.

My greatest backpacking period was from 1980 to 2003 when I hiked the Sierra Nevada, Denali NP, the Tetons, the Grand Canyon, the Gila Wilderness,Utah's canyons and anywhere in between! I spent months backpacking as deep in wild area's as I could get, making the outdoors my home not just my vacation-land. I have worked summers and took 9 month vacations backpacking from 1980 to the present. 

10:01 a.m. on January 18, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

I like being out there so much, I figured out a way to get paid for it.

7:14 p.m. on January 18, 2017 (EST)
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Re: What attracted you to backpacking and what lead you too start

ppine said:

I like being out there so much, I figured out a way to get paid for it.

 Ain't you the lucky one. Damn sure wish I could but i am so close to reaching my goal I don't see any way of making a career change for a couple of years.

10:47 a.m. on January 19, 2017 (EST)
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To be honest about this subject, there have been times when going in the field has been drudgery. Some field seasons we were out close to 3/4 of the time.  When I got home for a three day weekend I just wanted to rest, be near a shower and hang out at home. The vocation and avocation can get mixed together and it becomes confusing.

It is not a good thing when you start to associate being in the outdoors with work. Field work was intense with long days, commute time, and working on samples and forms in some crummy motel room at night.  We did it because we thought we were making a difference.

5:02 p.m. on January 19, 2017 (EST)
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That's eazey, when I was in cub scouts my brother's boy scout troop did a week on the Apalachain trail. My mom and dad bought him all this realy cool gear. Most of it from the army surplus store. I was jealous. He bragged about it and rubed it in so much I couldn't wait to get into the troop. After my first trip backpacking I was hooked. It's something I love and never get tired of doing. The new life gear helps a lot. Lol. But I'm more at peace with the world when I'm in the woods.

5:13 a.m. on January 21, 2017 (EST)
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ppine said:

"..It is not a good thing when you start to associate being in the outdoors with work. Field work was intense with long days, commute time, and working on samples and forms in some crummy motel room at night.  We did it because we thought we were making a difference."

I totally get the elements weary aspect of being out doors all the time. 

It has been observed that the surest way to kill the joy of anything is doing it for money.

Ed

9:17 a.m. on January 21, 2017 (EST)
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Thanks Ed.  It is a fine line.  Being in the field 40-50 % the time is much better.  It puts everything back in balance.

There were still plenty of days it was hard to believe we were getting paid to be out there.

Flying around Alaska in helicopters would be an example.

2:17 p.m. on January 21, 2017 (EST)
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I owe my love of camping and backpacking to the Boy Scouts. I had always been playing in the woods, but the BSA introduced me to camping as a way to further exploration. Backpacking to see cooler county, get better campsites.

Most of the time we were living out of patrol boxes, of course, but the function of it all was imparted upon me in those early days. I learned to reproduce that function, more or less, in my backpack.

I learned the folly that Ed and ppine speak of firsthand, having gone into Forestry due to my love of the woods. While I came into the field at the tail end of good, hard field work, the job is already much more computerized than I'd want to believe. It's certainly not a map, compass and clinometer anymore.

8:28 a.m. on January 23, 2017 (EST)
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Folks who don't work in the woods sometimes don't understand this idea, and I think most of us who went into the natural resource field didn't expect it. I have tried to explain to a few people that spending three months near Asheville NC doing field work is not as great as it sounds. Too tired at the end of the day to go into town and enjoy all the food etc, and on the weekend you have to catch up on paperwork and don't honestly feel like getting out to the wonderful variety of trails in th area.

I went through a 5 year period in the 90s where backpacking became a rare trip...maybe annual as I spent most days outside working. Then I shifted to more office and less field, and the fun stuff picked up steam again.

10:44 a.m. on January 23, 2017 (EST)
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Thanks Phil.

It is ironic that I do my longer outdoor trips now as an older guy. When I was young and in great shape I was too busy working most of the time.

8:58 p.m. on January 27, 2017 (EST)
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Somehow, this question is strange to me. I was born and bred in the middle of the Sonora desert, and backpacking was just the way of life for those of us living on the reservation. My first few years were at the start of WWII. At about age 4, my father was assigned to his post in Honduras until the end of the War, then we moved back to the reservation. We hiked and camped in the desert even after my father was transferred into Phoenix (pop abt 50,000 in those days). We also camped and hunted (in those days, a parent's hunting and fishing licenses covered the kids as well - not like today's rules) on the Mogollon Rim as well as in the desert mountains and and the forests of Northern Arizona.

When he was transferred to California (transfers are a way of life for government workers), we shifted to backpacking and hiking in the SoCal deserts and mountains, plus in the Sierra. That's just the way the world worked.

One major life crisis was when my father died suddenly of a heart attack while we were hiking in the Sierra near Devil's Postpile. I was 15 at the time, a time when CPR was unknown.

More experience in the woods and hills came when I worked as Nature Counselor in a Boy Scout Camp one summer. A major part of my duties involved shepherding young scouts on backpacking trips from the Camp (near Idyllwild in the San Jacinto mountains). That was also the summer I got bit by a rattlesnake (the snake died - but that's another story, and a true one).

As I went through high school and then into college and grad school, hiking, backpacking, plus mountaineering remained as a major part of my life (as it does to this day). I met my wife while in grad school. Her family, too, lived the outdoor life, as we do to this day, a half-century later. We remain healthy, despite (or because of) my having passed the 3/4 of a century mark. (she, of course, is 21yo and always will be, despite having spent a half-century putting up with me and our son).

True, some departures from plain old backpacking and hiking came up - mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, skiing, a touch of mushing in Alaska, added hiking and climbing on all 7 continents. There was a deviation for a few years of bicycle racing (Barb took the women's district championship for 8 straight years, while I had a mix of the gold and a couple lesser silver and bronzes). And there was a bit of canoeing in there as well.

We can't see it any other way. Although we now "officially" live in a city (in Silicon Valley), day hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains (right on the San Andreas fault), backpacking, hiking, back-country skiing (including winter camping), etc remain an integral part of life.

So when did I start? Going by the photos of me at 1 to 4 years, I guess it was as soon as I was born into this world. My mother used to tell me that I was climbing before I could crawl.


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10:23 p.m. on January 27, 2017 (EST)
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Nice to hear from you Bill I was wondering where you were hadn't see much from you lately. Not a strange question just curious how we all came to our chosen hobby. I grew up camping hunting fishing like every one else and was in the Webelos,though we never went on a hike just car camping.  However never once till I got into backpacking did I or anyone I know ever go out in nature for natures sake. we only went out to kill,catch something or just because it was the manly thing to do. After 2 decades of nothing but work church and not much else just trying to stay afloat, backpacking has been a breath of fresh air For the 2nd half. Just curious how others besides myself came to it and felt about it. It's good to hear from you look forward to your posts.

12:12 p.m. on January 29, 2017 (EST)
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The question is strange to me (and Barbara) because to us, the outdoors is THE way of life, with hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, etc fundamental components. Since we were born into it, questions about "what attracted you" and "what lead you to start" are equivalent to "what caused you to get born" and "what lead you to breath air?" 

6:35 p.m. on February 25, 2017 (EST)
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my man took me on that first 4 day trip.  It was totally a test, lol.  I took to it like a fish to water and now I'm the one who's constantly bugging him to go out.  

10:35 a.m. on March 6, 2017 (EST)
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"Being born into it" rings true. My relatives moved from Kansas on a train to Washington State in 1889. They gave up farming and got into lots of different things like a lumber mill, prosecuting attorney, church pastor and newspaper men.

They quickly embraced the outdoors and were famous for taking the whole family in wagons from Kalama to climb Mt St Helens every summer.  From the time my great grandfather and great great uncles moved to WA they hunted, fished, camped and climbed all over the place. My grandfather told me at age 8, that he would take me "bear huntin" as soon as I reached the age of 12. 

Backpacking was not even a sport in those days. They often "went on hikes for a few days" starting with my great grandfather and great uncle.  The lore was carried on from there.

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