Thanksgiving is a joyous period of time that we use to show gratitude for what we have in our lives. Backpacking and spending time in the wilderness teaches us to be grateful for all of the things nature provides for us. We often take the “simple” every day things in our lives for granted, and unless we reconnect with nature and all of it’s wonderful offerings, it is easy to forget why nature is such a precious and sacred thing to our every day lives. Back packing is a fantastic way for us to keep in touch with nature. So without further ado, here are 10 things that backpacking teaches us to be thankful for.
When hiking for days on end in the backcountry, showering is not an option. I’ve had many people ask me, “What do you do about showering and the bathing in the wilderness?” Well, the answer is, you don’t do anything. But after a few days of only having wet wipes for a shower, when you do finally get a hot shower it is so glorious. Backpacking teaches us to appreciate the everyday comforts we have – like showers.
Big greasy burgers
Another everyday comfort we have is big greasy burgers. Freeze-dried and dehydrated meals are great, but after eating nothing else for a few days, real food just tastes so much better. When I go backpacking or spend several days in the wilderness, I usually pick out a “victory meal” and dream about it the whole time I am hiking. My victory meals usually consist of big greasy burgers, because I don’t eat them on normal basis. I reserve them as a reward for when I’ve been eating freeze-dried meals for four days and hiking out of places like the Grand Canyon. Backpacking teaches us to appreciate good food.
This one I am starting to be more and more thankful for the older I get. I love sleeping in my own bed – especially after sleeping on the cold ground for several days. Sure I bring my Therm-a-Rest and my sleeping bag is pretty nice, but you’re still sleeping on the ground.
The ability the check the weather anytime
You don’t realize how much being able to check the weather on a moment’s notice is a luxury, until you don’t have that ability. I could titled this part simply “WiFi,” but when I travel I like to disconnect. However, my weather app is not really something I want to discount from, especially when I’m literally out in it all the time. Backpacking teaches me to be thankful for WiFi and the ability to check the weather any time I want.
The ability to drive down the road
Another luxury I took for granted is having a vehicle and the ability to simply drive down the road. On a backpacking trip once, my brother decided he wanted some Gatorade. The problem was the nearest store was a mile down the road in the opposite direction. Being in the middle of nowhere, our only choice was to walk to the store and back. I really missed not being able to hop in the car and drive down to the store really quickly.
Backpacking also teaches me to appreciate climate control. I believe everyone of my generation really takes climate control for granted. We’ve always had it and we freak out when a storm knocks out power, but people lived without for thousands of years. I have been cold, hot, and wet so many times in the wild that I have come to love being able to simply adjust the thermostat when the temperature drops one degree below my comfort level.
Bug free zones
Oh my goodness, I hate bugs! Mosquitos, biting flies, and gnats are the worst. And they pester you constantly. Once while backpacking along the lakeshore of Lake Superior we were swarmed by biting flies for about 24-hours. That period is the most miserable I have ever been. They were so thick when we pitched the tent and jumped in as quickly as we could, 10 flies still got in there. My friend Lagena said she will forever remember Michigan by the sound of a slap – as we slapped the flies when they bit us. But when the flies left, and we could sit and eat in peace, we were so thankful for being bug free.
The kindness of strangers
Another thing backpacking teaches you to be thankful is the kindness of strangers. The more you backpack, the more you will find yourself depending on strangers. But this is a good thing. It teaches you that you are resilient and can ask for help. It teaches you that the majority of people in the world are good. On the same backpacking trip with the flies in Michigan, our stove went missing. We were looking at eating cold oatmeal for the next few days, but a very nice woman let us use her stove to heat and rehydrate our meals. I have had people give me Gatorade for free, offer me rides, and simply take the time visit and get to know me.
Learning to rely on myself
While backpacking teaches you to accept help from strangers, it also teaches you to rely on yourself. When you backpack, you have to cook your own meals, build a shelter every night, carry yourself and gear from point A to point B. It also teaches you how to rely on your rout finding, map reading, and navigation skills. Backpacking is very empowering and that is one reason I love it so much.
The Peace and serenity of nature
Finally backpacking teaches you to appreciate the peace and serenity of nature. We need nature to survive. That peace and serenity is a necessity. Nature show us how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. It shows us how majestic God is. It shows us things will be OK and that adversity just makes us stronger.
Backpacking teaches us to be thankful
There is so much to be thankful for in life. But sometimes we take those things for granted and don’t realize what a powerful role they play in our day-to-day lives. It’s not until we deprive ourselves of those things, that we truly appreciate them.