Advice Journal Outdoors Photography

Top 7 reasons why every woman should try wilderness backpacking at least once.  By Liz Song of Snowqueen & Scout

If you’ve ever had a curiosity about wilderness backpacking, there may be some part of you that’s yearning for what backpacking has to offer. Could it be any of these reasons?

1. You’ll find out you’re stronger than you think.
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Imagine a 20-pound sack of potatoes strapped to your back. Now add two 5-pound weights for fun since that’s more accurate to what you’d be carrying on a backpacking trip, about 30-pounds. That includes everything you’ll need to survive in the wilderness for a few days. Initially, 30-pounds may not feel bad for the first quarter mile, but it will start weighing on you. Each mile will feel long, and each mountain you hike up and over will be a real challenge. But [spoiler alert],you’ll make it each time you don’t think you will or when you feel like giving up. And when you reach the mountain top, you’ll believe it for yourself: You are strong. Much stronger than you thought. And that knowing will translate into other aspects of your life.

2. You’ll appreciate your body for what it can do, not what it looks like.2
Many women are at war with their bodies: fixing this, hiding that, plucking this, slimming that. It’s endless. Here’s some liberating news: In the wilderness, your body can just simply be. It gets to do what it was meant to do: move around and sweat; find footing on the earth; witness the grandeur of crystal clear alpine lakes; breathe in fresh air like none other; smell the cocktail of natural scents; touch mountains that have existed for hundreds of thousands of years; taste how good food is when you’re body yearns for nutrition. When you get to your destination and take off your heavy pack, you’ll be amazed at what your body is capable of, not because it looked a certain way, but because it did an incredible thing. It’s a beautiful gift to experience that kind of liberation: to love our bodies for exactly what they are, not because we’ve altered it in any way.

3. You’ll feel more secure and more capable. 3
After the empowering experience of backpacking, you’re bound to feel more secure of yourself and what you’re capable of accomplishing. Those last steps off the trail are incredibly satisfying. There’s an inner work that happens both consciously and subconsciously which reinforces your inner strength. You’ll know deep inside that because you climbed that mountain, you can take on that next “mountain” – however it presents itself to you.

4. You’ll become a more grateful person.

If you ever find yourself complaining about not having enough or not having better things, go on a backpacking trip. Having a limited number of options and living simply will give you an instant needed perspective. You’ll come back home, take a shower, and stand there under the water feeling grateful for the gift of warm flowing water. You’ll notice all the gifts you already have in your life: instantaneous drinkable running water, a fridge stocked with cold fresh foods, comforts of a plush bed, a home that protects you from the elements. Backpacking is not easy, but it’s fulfilling and it helps us be grateful. Gratitude and Joy are inextricably linked. And that means we become more joyful people.

5. You’ll be proud of yourself.
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Going on a backpacking trip is not just something to cross off your bucket list. It’s a journey you’ll never forget. It marks a willingness to step outside your comforts, to challenge yourself in an entirely new way, to say “YES!” to see what you’re made of…it’s an journey of discovery. The moment you take those first steps on the trail, you’ll start feeling proud of yourself for choosing to backpack. And those last steps you take off the trail, you’ll be deeply satisfied and proud of the adventure you just took. There’s nothing quite like it.

6. You’ll see things most people will never ever see.
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Often, the first couple miles of trailheads are full of people who are doing day hikes. As you go deeper into the wilderness, that number starts dwindling off. You’ll see less people and feel more of nature’s presence. As you sit gazing at stars surrounded by utter stillness, you’ll know that very few people have ever sat where you’ve sat, experiencing the same thing you are. In fact, you are the only one in all of history to be there in that moment. Many are willing to hike the first few miles, few are willing to journey deep within. That is a tremendous and unique gift to witness!

7. You’ll see yourself for who you really are. And you’ll fall in love with that person.
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When we are faced with real challenge and discomfort, parts of us emerge that are usually tucked away. During a backpacking trip, you will see aspects of your character and personality that might not get tapped into on a daily basis. Maybe you get judgmental, critical, angry, emotional, subdued, courageous, drill-searganty… anything can happen. All these parts of you are precious and beautiful and a gift for you to experience and to learn from. If you’re open to it, you’ll see yourself more holistically as you are, and you’ll fall in love with her.

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10 Comments

  • Reply Maggie January 8, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I love this article! It makes me feel so empowered to try wilderness hiking! I love the idea of connecting with my mind, body, and soul on a journey that would be very personal. -Maggie http://www.thatgirlmags.com

    • Reply Liz Song January 12, 2016 at 4:08 am

      Girl, you’ve got to try it. What is holding you back? And how can I help you take the first step?

  • Reply Petra January 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Other than #6, I’ve never been able to articulate why backpacking has become my passion later in life. Thank for putting together words the simple, yet oh so powerful, reasons we do what we do.
    I love every reason!

    • Reply Liz Song January 12, 2016 at 4:07 am

      Wonderful!! 🙂 So glad I could articulate it… xx

    • Reply mary January 26, 2016 at 2:46 am

      I get it! started hiking with a passion at 52 – sometimes I wonder why I didn’t start earlier in life- then I decide to stop wasting that energy and concentrate on what I am doing next! It’s so exciting! Yet so many do not understand…..

  • Reply Stephanie January 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Loved reading this, Liz! All of your reasons resonated with me. <3

  • Reply Joyce January 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Trish, count me in for 2016. I’m going! I’m such a wimp though. What if I really can’t make it? lol

    • Reply mary January 26, 2016 at 2:48 am

      you CAN do it! start with short day hikes, build up to an overnight, then multiple nights, then you know you’re ready!

  • Reply Jacqueline February 3, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Great photos. Totally inspirational. This kind of thing can be so intimidating. Thank you for posting!

  • Reply Judy Schmidt January 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    What a beautiful and inspiring article! Thank you from the bottom of my heart….

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