Posted by: davepidgeon | March 28, 2009

Re-stumbling and re-bumbling

 

Looking disheveled while hiking in Shenandoah National Park, Va.

Looking disheveled while hiking in Shenandoah National Park, Va.

I posed this introspective question to my best friend last week – What if we could recreate our first backpack by following the same trails, bagging the same peaks, as we did five years ago, and find out what has changed about us as backpackers and persons? 

So what if?

My first ever attempt at hiking a trail and sleeping in the wilderness came in May 2004, and I was in way over my head. My friend, Chris Seiple, author of www.trailsauce.com, had agreed to a three-day, two-night excursion that would string together the Appalachian Trail and side paths to Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. As the above picture testifies, with the lumpy tent slipping out of its straps, tin pan gloriously swaying and my GAP cargo shorts proudly on display, I was a bit underprepared and unorganized. I’m still cracking up after these years looking at that photo.

Chris Seiple gazes toward Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park, Va.

Chris Seiple gazes toward Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park, Va.

I won’t recount every misstep or misadventure because, thankfully and a little embarrassingly, Chris has reposted with a bit of nostalgia at his blog. What I choose to remember first, though, is how when the hike was completed, all the frustrations and the doubts about whether backpacking was a sport for me dissipated as I considered what I would have done differently, and as I drove the car closer to home, the more enthusiastic I grew about trying backpacking again.

That speaks to one of the inherent beauties of backpacking. Much of the pleasure of the experience comes after it’s over, when you contemplate the extraordinary effort you just put in crossing stretches of wilderness, striving to reach a peak, seeing those memorable vistas. You consider your mistakes, then in your mind problem solve to make you better prepared for the next go ’round. I’m as excited about going backpacking when I’ve completed a trip as I am at the beginning.

I’m thinking seriously about trying the first trip again, just to see how far we’ve come. Could you imagine retracing your first steps? What would you discover about yourself? I find it an attractive proposition.

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Responses

  1. Let’s do this after you get back from Costa Rica. It’ll be interesting following our old footsteps carrying 20 less pounds and with moisture wicking away instead of clinging-to, ‘nah mean?!

    P.s. ‘NOVA FINAL FOUR!


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