3 Tips for a Great Backpacking Adventure

Backpacking and Restoring Your Soul

           My First Trip

Last summer I went on a crazy backpacking trip. It was 3000 feet of vertical gain in like 4 miles or something. It felt like we were climbing Mount Everest at the time, and I almost didn’t make it to the top. After that trip I decided that I needed to up the quality of my gear. I purchased all new gear and told myself that I’d be gung-ho next summer. My plan was to backpack at least six times. Even if it was just a few miles out to a lake.

My Gear

My biggest and most important purchase, was my new pack. It is an Osprey Pack, and the link is here. It has this awesome zero gravity mesh that keeps your back cool, but also allows all of the weight of the pack to sit on your hips. It is amazing! I also had to purchase a new stove, and a new trowel for the dug kit. Luckily my tent and sleeping bag were already super nice and lightweight. 

Alice Toxaway Loop

                Fast forward to now, I only made it out backpacking once. Not only that, but it was the very end of the summer. I finally was able to gather my friends and we were able to set on a weekend and a loop. The loop we ended up doing was the Alice-Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. As a native Idahoan who doesn’t want any more humans entering the state, I will say the route is terrible. 😉 No the route is gorgeous. It is a nineteen-mile loop, with about 3000 feet of gain. You climb up to Alice Lake, which is amazing. Alpine lakes are crystal clear pools nestled in pockets of trees hidden amongst jagged mountains. The Sawtooth Mountains are known for their jagged appearance. They look like, you guessed it, teeth scraping the sky.

View from out Campsite at Toxaway Lake Sunday Morning.

Boyf and I at Alice Lake

Boyf and I pretending we aren't actually tired.

        Spiritual Restoration

                Something about climbing through the mountains always puts me in a meditative state. Each of my footfalls bring me further into my own consciousness. Despite the burden of my 45 lb pack (I ALWAYS overpack food which is a terrible habit I have), the hike felt easier than I had anticipated. Even at elevation, my lungs were able to pull in what little oxygen was left in the air and use it. Even when I huffed, I didn’t feel like I was going to die or was unable to keep walking. I carried on, not letting my last experience hinder what I was experiencing at the time.

        Valuable Cross-Training

                I was able to see just how vital cross training is. The 19 miles of the loop were not easy. We climbed uphill, slept not so great on the ground, and were cold most of the night. However, we finished the loop. My body has been training not only for a half marathon, but in the process of training for a 19 mile backpacking trip. I was able to train for this trip. It was relieving to finish the trail, hop back in the truck and drive back into town. I was tired, ready to let my feet rest, but also it was a relief to know that I could finish that loop. 

        My Backpacking Background

The camp I attended as a kid (Luther Height Bible Camp, they are amazing 😊 ) had a Trails camp that would often do that loop. They would spend three days doing that loop and have a day of day-hiking in between. I would look at those kids and think that I would never be able to accomplish something like that. For more on my adventures with LHBC, check out this post. Growing up, I was not known for my athleticism, and I really preferred at least pit toilets to finding a tree somewhere in the wilderness. But that weekend, I proved something to my fifteen-year-old self. I proved that I am strong enough, and that, given the motivation, you can accomplish anything.

        Implement Backpacking in your Spiritual Wellness Plan!

                I know I have mentioned this before, but the mountains are restorative. Nature restores the most tired hidden parts of your human self. We came back to work that Monday, and I felt accomplished and ready to tackle the next week. As the winter creeps in, I will need to be intentional about planning outings to the wilderness to hopefully grab these restorative moments. 

Here are some Tips for you next restorative nature weekend:

1.       Pick a trip that fits your fitness level right now. If that means a 20 minutes hike down a well known trail at the edge of town—Go for it!

2.       Grab some buddies who are more experienced than you. This will give you confidence in those times you are tired and ready to quit.

3.       Try not to overpack. I am so bad at this. I always overpack food. Every. Single. Time. Instead of packing all that extra food, I should focus on electrolyte packs, warm clothes, and some energy chews.

Comment below your favorite places to backpack! I always need the inspiration!