A Shoulder Season of Life

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    Michael Haubert
    BPL Member


    Locale: So Cal

    Companion forum thread to: A Shoulder Season of Life

    I must be in a “shoulder season” of my life…

    BPL Member


    “Nature heals”. Just go!! Whatever happens happens!

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    “When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
    When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
    When the funds are low and the debts are high
    And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
    When care is pressing you down a bit,
    Rest, if you must, but don’t quit.

    Life is queer with its twists and turns,
    As everyone of us sometimes learns,
    And many a failure turns about
    When he might have won had he stuck it out,
    Don’t’ give up though the pace seems slow,
    You may succeed with another blow.

    Success is failure turned inside out,
    The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
    And you never can tell how close you are,
    It may be near when it seems so far,
    So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
    It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

    Edgar A. Guest



    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    The challenge has been met. The routes have been found. Limitations have been challenged. You’ve met your goal. You’re a healthy old man because of it. Your confidence level is high. Drink it up. Enjoy what you’ve accomplished. Just get outside and do what makes you happy even if it’s just a walk in the park. I’m doing a lot more car camping. Still embrace the ultralight philosophy. Just not climbing the peaks in ultra cold weather. Been there done that. I know I can.

    Jason A
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic

    My favorite part of this is when you say ” I think I just need to go”, and I believe you will:)

    Happy Trails

    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    I have certainly experienced several seasons during my life that I for a year period of time I didn’t do a backpacking trip. A combination of the demands of a leadership role in a startup, parenting, caring for my wife as she struggled through multiple treatments for cancer, and other obligations kept me too busy.

    My best suggestion is not to worry about if you are doing backpacking trips. What’s most important is getting out in nature and experience the awe and restoration that “nature bathing” provides.  Science is pretty clear that 2-5 hours / week makes a huge difference (link to a few studies).

    Getting back out came about multiple ways for me.  One solution was  simplifying life (learning to say no) and building. slack into life that gave me space to take a backpacking trip (and at times just rest). A couple of times it was hitting the walk and realized something had to change and as you said “just getting out”. The most extreme example of this is I went into work one Friday and realized I couldn’t face work. I told my boss I was going to take the day off and maybe be back next week. I went home, told my wife I was at the end of my rope and needed to break from “life”. I grabbed my bag and headed of for a 2 day solo trip nearby. I was restored and as an extra bonus, in the quietness of the forest the solution to what had seemed an intractable problem at work for the last two months jumping into my mind.

    A quarter later I notice I was getting crispy around the edges. I told my boss that I needed to get out, sorry for the late notice.  He said “Your last break made you so productive, just go.  No advance notice required. Don’t count it as vacation, and do this anytime you want in the future.  We all can see the value of you getting away for a few days.”


    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Indiana

    A man’s guts are the first thing to go as he gets older. Better to die out in the wilderness than to live in a safe cocoon that involves no risk or adventure. Just pack adequate gear to handle the wettest or coldest conditions you’ll possibly face. And remember he who spends the most days outdoors wins.

    Alex (he/him)
    BPL Member


    I agree with Mark Verber above. Don’t worry about it.  Backpacking is an activity that takes a large amount of time, energy, and planning. If you don’t have the oomph right now, don’t bother. Another season of life will come around.

    I just took 2? 3? years off due to physical and mental health stuff, along with kids, work, and all the rest. Backpacking is still here and still great! But starting again I was like – MAN the to do list prior to going is IMMENSE! I feel like I didn’t really appreciate when I was backpacking regularly how much *work* it is to plan a trip, because it’s fun. But if the planning isn’t fun – that’s a good indication that it might be a good time to take a break.

    David D
    BPL Member


    I spend my winter taking a lot of time pre-planning trips and making cookie cutter templates (gear, meals, custom maps…) that makes prep and planning at trip time quick and painless.  It can be exhausting in the winter but the juices are recharged by the time its time to start tripping again.

    No fun being burned out when its time to jump in the car.

    I hit a similar mental block motorcycle tripping, which I did in excess for 30+ years.  I didn’t know if it was the prep or the activity itself that lost it’s shine, so I borrowed a friends bike and gear and gave it another go.  That’s when I realized it was time to hang up the keys.

    It would be great if you could take a turnkey guided trip and see if its the prep or the journey that you need a break from.

    Megan W
    BPL Member


    ‘The shoulder season of life’ is such an evocative phrase; encapsulates so much meaning!

    Here is my poetry quote 🙂

    “You do not have to be good.

    You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting

    You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

    (Wild Geese, Mary Oliver).

    Like other posters, I had several years where I didn’t want to go multi day bushwalking. I was carrying pretty heavy life loads at work and at home. Once I got over the self judgement, (which was hard, because bushwalking was part of my identity, i guess), I realised that my ‘soft animal’ still wanted the solitude, natural world,  simplicity and gypsying. So I stayed in huts, and airbnbs and car camped and went on road trips. Often I went on day walks and other times I just curled up and watched the world.

    My ‘want to walk’ came back, and I love it again. And I guess I do it differently now. Other past ‘wants’ haven’t come back e.g. I just don’t feel like white water kayaking any more and climbing is just a treasured part of a past life. That feels OK.

    Mary Oliver says it better.

    I hope you have a lovely time wherever you go/ whatever you do 🙂

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