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Why Do I Love Backpackinng/Hiking

by: HOPE MICHAUD

Why I Love Backpacking/Hiking And Just About Anything Outside In an article I was reading the author was asked why he backpacks, so I thought I needed to answer this question for myself. My family has asked me this very same question. Some of them think I am crazy, (and the rest of them know I am) they just don't understand why, why I enjoy carrying so much weight on my back and sleeping in a tent and walking for miles, sometimes in not the best of weather to do such. So, I thought for a second and the answer didn't come that easily, so I thought some more and some more and came up with my response.

For one thing, I love the outdoors, anything outdoors, I am even looking forward to our upcoming raft ride (shh, don't tell anyone). If you gave me a choice of going to a concrete ridden theme park or to go hit a trail, the trail would win hands down. Also, if you give me a choice of staying at a 5 star hotel or sleeping in my tent, my 5 star tent would win hands down. I also, truly love camp breakfasts, trail lunches, (my favorite, pepperoni, string cheese and tortilla shells), snacks (bring on the trail mix with extra chocolate) and camp dinners, to me they taste better than going out for gourmet. The simple fact that I can eat whenever and wherever and of course, whatever (lack of guilt, after all I'm hiking it off) is also awesome. No schedules to keep, no timetable as it is in our concrete jungle, I can explore at my own pace, without any particular schedule, no deadlines, no phones, no worries, hike my own hike, be carefree.

My curiosity makes me need and want to see what is around the next bend or up the next hill, and it doesn't matter how many times I do the same hike every time it is different, the same things won't be around the same bend each and every time, sometimes the bend is even in a different spot. Also, I like the knowledge that I know I can survive with everything on my back and that material possessions don't mean a whole lot out there, and really the only thing that matters is the experiences I bring with me and the experiences I take home with me

Then there is always the adventure that keeps me coming back for more. The simple knowledge that these great places can only be seen by foot. I enjoy the challenge of getting to a certain place by my own means. It is worth every step, every ouch, bug bite and any other discomfort along the way just to know that they will soon be forgotten, with the first aah or wow (view). The views from the top of Blood Mountain were incredible and what was really satisfying about the whole trip was the fact that I made it up there with my own feet and that only by foot could I have gotten that aah affect.

I hike for the views, the ones that can sometimes take your breath away, such as eating lunch on the side of the mountain, so high in the sky with the hawks souring at eye level, and then flying down below (I think they were showing off). You can never get these great views from the concrete jungle most of us call home. The only way to experience this perfect feeling of awe and aah is to hike it

Furthermore, I love listening to and hopefully seeing the many animals (or signs of them) and creatures of the forest. I am thankful to them for sharing their homes with me. I love that someday, hopefully, we will see a bear, and I also love knowing the fact that we probably won't hiking with the girls (they are better than having bear bells). I love the flowers and the trees that surround me. I love the way being out there makes me feel, refreshed relaxed and carefree. I love the smell of the woods, the dirt under my feet, (and on my body) the sound of the crunch from leaves as you walk, the sounds of the animal and the overwhelming feeling that I have when all of my senses are being enlightened.

One of the most important reasons I love to be outdoors is that I love to share these experiences, with the people (i.e. my family and friends) I love. Because of sharing these experiences we all grow closer and individually. Only those individuals will know what I am talking about when remembering these special times. Only Mike, Jess, Shan and I will be able to remember hiking the trail at Kissimmee River (Kissimmee Ocean) and knowing that when we return to hike it again (and we will) it will be a totally different hike as are all. They are the only ones who know which trip I am referring to when I mention the noisy camping trip. When mentioning it all of our memories will bring us back to that particular trip. Only Mike, Jess and I will know which trail should be renamed to Muck -n- Roots and why. Also, the memories of a certain camping vacation will be remembered every time we mention Jess' trail name of Ivy. I love the way Shan will see things differently than we do and also see things that we would totally miss if it weren't for her pointing them out. I love the look on her face when she finds a new discovery. I love the simple fact she will walk for food. I love the way Jess and Mike hold hands as they are walking together. I love the way sometimes Jess hikes up ahead and doesn't complain about much. I love the way she sits waiting for us around the next bend looking all refreshed and sitting generally in the middle of the trail (not off the trail, for the fear of poison ivy). I love the way she has her trail mix gone before we even get out on the trail. I love the simple fact she will walk for Propel. I love going anywhere with Mike and sharing these experiences with him. I love the way he can be so Pokey (his trail name). I love it when Mike and I get that overwhelming need to play "checkers" in the tent when it is raining out and sometimes playing it off the trail during a break. I love the fact he will walk just for me. I love sharing my life (trail and concrete) with them. I love growing because of these experiences with the ones I love, they make it all worth it. So for giving me all those memories and smiles I have to thank my family and the great outdoors.

So the original question is why do I backpack/hike? For me it was not an easy question to answer, and I couldn't answer it with only one phrase, such as I love the outdoors, it goes beyond words, it's the feelings and the views and the enjoyment of spending time with the people that I love and sharing these experiences with them. The bear went over the mountain, what do you think he saw? Well, I don't know the answer to this very old question, but as long as my feet will take me there I intend to keep going up those mountains and around every possible bend to see.

P.S. "Not all who wander are lost".

Hope Michaud, wife, mother, hiker from St. Pete, FL