Backpacking. The concept of walking miles away from everything where one could possibly get lost and die, to be fully self-sufficient, and completely reliant upon one’s skillset and tools. Paper map and Compass, no Cell Phone service, using the bathroom in a hole you dig in the ground (and in some cases, pack it back out with you depending on park regulations).
I’m terrified, yet in love with the concept. Too often in society, people try to save others from themselves. There is lacking personal responsibility and so much time and effort is wasted on things that don’t really matter. What better way to sort oneself out than adversity?
Picture me: 31 year old work-at-home engineer with a history of anxiety so bad that he couldn’t make it a block away to the store. Now picture this person at 5’11”, 250lbs walking 10 miles into the forest away from everything, no contact with the outside world and 30lbs of gear.
Before you queue the “body positivity” and self acceptance jazz, hear this. I don’t feel as if I’m healthy enough to safely hike a 10 mile day with 30lbs on my back, yet. History of childhood asthma and what my Fitbit rates as a “Fair” cardiovascular health score are my concerns. Dealing with mental health is one thing, but dying from exhaustion or some other issue on the trail is a game ender.
So, the process begins. I carved out a half mile trail that I loop around 4-5 times with varying terrain. I wear my loaded pack and walk quickly as I’m comfortable in the smooth sections, then the wooded area slows me down; an excellent repeating ramp of activity.
I can feel it in my body, and there’s nothing like some exercise to gain quick introspection into how out of shape one is. I’ve already had some positive emotional impacts, but I’m still struggling and will for some time (especially considering it’s Winter here in Indiana).
We’ll see if I can keep the pace up.