My family camped a lot when I was growing up, and I mean a lot – like every weekend. I don’t know if that caused my love affair with nature, or if I was simply born this way. Nothing makes me more happy than to be in nature, and not just at the neighborhood park but deep in the backcountry camping, hiking, and being miles from civilization.
Backpacking and sleeping out in the middle of the woods is my favorite place to be.
Backcountry camping is different from car camping. First off, you carry everything on your back for a long ways.
As a little girl camping with my family, I would imagine my life as an explorer in the nineteenth century, or a Native American that made the rugged area my home. Our favorite camping spot was Camp Albert Pike in the Ouachita National Forest in southwest Arkansas. Unfortunately the forest service closed the developed campground after a flash flood in 2010. The forest service does allow backcountry camping anywhere in the national forest as long as it does not have it marked as “no camping.”
The area is some of the most rugged terrain in Arkansas with deep valleys and tall peaks. It is also very remote. I love it when I am deep in the narrow valleys, looking up at the towering peaks. That is when I feel the most surrounded by nature. No cell phone service also helps.
Backcountry camping is a great way to let go of the world and immerse yourself in nature. It is here you can think clearly about your life, your wants, or whatever makes you happy, free from day-to-day distractions. It’s a simpler life – just you and the forest.
It does have it’s drawbacks. In conversations with camping buddies, I sometimes want to look something up on the Internet. Without phones we have to wait until we get back to cell service and hope we remember.
We also tire of eating the same freeze-dried meals over and over again. Sleeping on the ground can be a pain, literally. And carrying the heavy pack up a mountain isn’t a walk in the park (well it is, but you know what I mean). Depriving yourself of these things can make everyday life better. For a more in depth post about this concept, read Benefits of Deprivation and Love of Backpacking.
Backcountry camping is different from car camping. First off, you carry everything on your back for a long ways. And because you want to keep your pack as light as possible, you only take what is absolutely necessary. Backpacking helps you evaluate what you really need, and what you will actually use.
You are also free from the crowds, and the noise, smells, and sights of other people. Getting away from crowds of people can help connect you more with nature. Yes, when you car camp you get away from the crowds and people too, but in the backcountry it is just you and your hike partner.
Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting fellow hikers while backcountry camping and visiting with them. But at the end of the day (a long, strenuous day I might add), it is so nice to lie in your tent looking up at the tops of trees or stars, and listen to just the sounds of nature.
Backpacking also can take you to awesome places that are only accessible by days of walking. These are special places that only few get to see. I love earning the view.
I also love backpacking and backcountry camping, because I love the challenge. Lagena said she likes it because she is competing with herself. You set goals, aim for them, and then set out on the trail. And it is an even better high when you surpass your goals.
Last year, Lagena and I backpacked in Olympic National Park. We climbed more than 5,000 feet, which was the most I ever climbed. I was a little worried that the hike was going to be too strenuous for us. When we got to the top of the mountain, that was one of the best highs for me.
The furthest I have ever backpacked is 39 miles with my brother on the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. It was definitely a challenge of endurance, but we did it. I was super excited to have completed the entire trail in one hike.
Backpacking is my favorite way to escape into nature. I love to surround myself with nature. I love to be alone in nature. And I love to set and achieve personal goals.