Backpacking for Beginners: Part One

backpackingAs a 23-year-old whose friends are getting married, working full-time jobs, and having kids, it can be difficult to plan time to see each other. So when my college roommate and best friend, Santina, said that her husband, Brendon was going out of town on an extended-weekend backpacking trip with his friends, we immediately planned a girls’ weekend of our own. When she came to visit, she mentioned that Brendon had been trying to convince her to go backpacking with him, but she wasn’t really sure she wanted to. I mean, I don’t blame her…the guys were roughing it out in the woods. My idea of spending time outdoors includes a hammock, a cozy blanket and several good books; their idea of spending time outdoors included a rainstorm, a soggy hammock and no running water for 4 days. However, during our conversation, I suddenly found myself saying “Well, if you do decide to go, I’ll go with you!” And from there, the adventure started taking shape.

Now, I should probably add that while I enjoy spending time outside occasionally – walking, bicycling, hiking – I’ve never really been a true outdoorsy, athletic type of person. The outdoors and I don’t always get along: I burn easily and mosquitos love me. At Lehman’s, I work in the Digital Marketing Department, so I’m used to sitting at a desk in front of the computer for 40+ hours each week. I’m not a “I-have-free-time-let-me-go-climb-a-mountain” type of person at all, so I have never done, or even considered, doing anything like what I’m about to do. But boy, am I excited! Our group of four (myself, Santina, Brendon, and our friend, Jonah) will be going to Brookville Lake in Indiana and hiking around the southern portion of the lake – 16 miles the first day and 11 miles the second day.

Do Your Research.
You may be asking, “How would I even prep for a trip like that?” Do your research. I spent a lot of time on Lehman’s website looking at their wide selection of camping and emergency supplies that are offered, and on Pinterest, combing through blogs and ideas on how to train for a backpacking trip and tips for packing. It’s always advisable to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Better yet, find someone to go with who has already done their research and gone on a similar trip. Experience is the best teacher – Brendon and Jonah were able to provide Santina and I with a highly detailed pack list based on their previous trip, which included items they wished they had brought vs. left at home, and what items we could save money on vs. what we should invest good money in (ANSWER: waterproof boots, dry bags and a good backpack). Print out a map of the trails and choose your route ahead of time; know the rules and regulations of where you are planning on backpacking or camping.

Start Small and Know Your Limitations.backpacking groupChoose a trail length and difficulty level that is doable for you. Santina and I knew it would be unwise to try a backpacking trip like Brendon and Jonah’s previous trip right off the bat, so as a group, we opted for something less intense. We’re both expecting this trip to be challenging, as it’s something we’ve never done before, but we know we will be able to get through the whole trip without putting ourselves at risk.

And my best and final piece of advice? GO FOR IT! The best time to start living a more simple and mindful life is today.

See you on the other side of the trail!