It's 22 degrees and you want to sleep outside?
It was pretty much the same from everyone I told about my plans this past Friday, a confused look accompanied by “Why?”. I asked my wife if she wanted to go. “You go have fun... I’ll stay here” was her response. I was planning to head out for a little overnight hike in the woods. Nothing huge, just an eight mile loop in a nearby national forest. That wasn’t the part everyone was getting hung up on, it was the idea I had about camping... in the woods... in winter... when it was just 22 degrees outside. No I'm not homeless.
If you’re an avid backpacker chances are you know where I’m coming from? We have to face the fact that a lot of our friends don’t understand how we can take enjoyment from walking around for days, in the wilderness, with all our necessities on our back and in some cases, without taking a shower. It just doesn’t seem natural or... maybe it’s a little too natural. When Meg and I came back from our Grand Canyon trip last year we got the same reaction over and over again. “You didn’t shower for five days? I don’t understand how you can do that.” Well it’s easy, you just don’t take a shower when you get up in the morning. Instead you walk 10 to 12 miles with your house, bed and kitchen on your back to another secluded location where you camp. Sound fun? Yeah, it does to me too.
We derive excitement and adventure from the places we go, the isolation we find and from the elements. One of the things I enjoy most about a backpacking trip is a little rain or chilly temperatures. It adds to the sense of adventure and survival. When you’re backpacking, isn’t it true that we say hello to most everyone we pass? Why is that? Because they’re one of us... they understand what we’re doing and why we’re out there doing it. And they find it refreshing to stop and talk to someone who shares their same interest.
I hiked my loop and yes, it was cold that night. Would I do it again... absolutely. Will I get lots of confused looks and questions... probably. It’s all just par for the course.