How in the world do you people find the time?

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Home Forums General Forums General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion How in the world do you people find the time?

Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 69 total)
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    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    I guess I’m in categories two and three. Sometimes the old man likes to go, sometimes not, but he doesn’t mind my going even if he doesn’t want to. With my kids now more independent, combined with budget cuts at work that have me laid off work for a month each year (above given vacation time) I have much more time to take off for extended periods.

    Of course, with my hefty pay cuts in the last few years making it all work means extreme financial planning. Driving very old cars (1995 and 2002), living without fixing up the fixer upper, minimal restaurant dining and no $4 coffees, etc. I’m certainly not the best dresser and I borrow my books and movies from the library. I grow much of our food, and preserve for winter. Frugality is a family tradition so not hard for me.

    Occasionally I feel a snub from a rich person, or feel like I’m too far outside the norm, and when that happens I look back at photos of Denali National Park, or Kodachrome State Park, or Death Valley … and know that I’m right where I want to be in life.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    we finally replaced our 1996 car a year ago

    buying a newer car doesn’t really improve our quality of life much.  It seems like cars last longer than they used to.  The 1996 Toyota never really broke down or anything, could have kept driving it.  It rattled a bit…

    BPL Member


    Your very old cars are three years older and four years “younger”  than  the newest car I have ever owned .

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    Renee and I splurge and eat out once a week. Spend about $30 max for both. Both drive 12 year old cars. Replacing the ‘91 van and the ‘92 Civic that we would still be driving if they hadn’t been totaled.   Make coffee at home. Works for two people who don’t like to go out or shop or spend time with other people in a social setting, minimalists, non materialistic souls like us.

    Nathan L
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Vermont

    I have really enjoyed reading everybody’s thoughts on getting time for hiking and backpacking.

    I am, right now, between Cat 2 – 3.  I am married 2 children a girl 2 and a son 5.  I live in Vermont and I do mostly late spring to fall hiking.  My wife and my 5 year-old son has a pack and my daughter will begin hiking herself in 2018, she was in a pack because she wasn’t 2 until September, but towards the end of this season she was out of pack walking around.

    I had always wanted to do long distance thru hikes since I was in high school but for some reason never did so I never got into hiking/backpacking until 2014 (I was 38 then) when on my first trip it was 53 degrees, drizzling and I was carrying a 36 pound frameless pack for 15 miles with no rain gear and I probably only used 15% of what was in my pack.  The one thing I did have was warm clothes so I could change out of wet ones.  Well, my whole body was hurting by the end of the trip and for the next week after.  It was then I started researching and continuously lightening my load and then a couple months ago joining backpacking light.  I am now almost at the point where my gear and equipment is right where they should be.  Right now, my full pack weight including food/water for a 3 day tip is 26 lbs.  By next year it will be 21 lbs. or a little lower as I complete my final packing list. Anyways this part is off topic.

    My son loves to hike and my wife likes to hike but not as much as I do.  My daughter wants to do what everybody else is doing, so in the summer we do a lot of family hiking.  I plan to take my son backpacking starting next year and we might possibly do a family backpacking trip.  I mean this loosely because I won’t expect my daughter to go more than a mile or 2, but it is still considered backpacking to them if we stay overnight.

    As far as time, I work 6 days a week 80 hours.  My time outdoors is severely limited, sometimes I can only go day hiking, sometimes I might get up to 3 days, but rarely.  Right now, we are working trying to get rid of all debts and bills we don’t need to be more financially stable so if we wanted to do a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, we feasibly could.  Maybe just me, maybe my son and I or the best option would be the whole family.

    BPL Member


    One other thing I do to “get out more” is skew my Friday work schedule. I don’t have any official hours I need to work, but it’s generally expected I’m there during “working hours”. So once or twice a month, I’ll get in to work super early morning on Friday, get all my work done, and leave in the early afternoon. This lets me drive to a trailhead on Friday with less traffic and camp out an extra night. My boss is okay with this.

    Other people I know have found jobs where they work 9-hour days, but get every other Friday off. My boss wouldn’t go for this. A growing number of companies are giving their employees Friday afternoons off during the summer.

    David Chenault
    BPL Member


    Locale: Queen City, MT

    My wife had never slept in a tent when we met.  She’s accumulated a fat outdoor resume since, but certainly prefers to not go on a range of trips, generally those which involve lots of cold and wet.  The thing which makes things simple is that we both understand outdoor adventures as a priority for each other.  For adult-onset backpackers, especially if your relationship predated that interest, adapting would be far harder, I’d imagine.

    Getting out often has to be a priority, financially, as others have mentioned.  Beyond allocating funds and turning down social engagements, two big picture strategies seem to be effective.  First, live within a few hours or less of good backpacking and do destination trips on weekends and occasional longer trips or trips further afield.  Generally this requires accepting a combination of both lower income and higher cost of living than other places.  Second, pick a place that gives you a favorable enough income/expense ratio that you’ll be able to buy plane tickets often.  I could make 60-80% more in the same career and have cheaper housing, etc if I went back to the midwest, but having marquee Wilderness within 30 miles has always seemed like the better bargain.

    Last, it is possible to do almost everything you did without kids with kids, it’s just takes a lot more effort.  Not more effort, however, than it would to stay home and find something else to do with our time off.



    Locale: London

    I’m in category 2, living in a place where income and plane/train tickets are feasible (if not cheap), and we’re both fortunate to have jobs where we can adjust our hours to take off early on a Friday. Persuading my partner to head out at the last minute is never hard, so long as we’re feeling solvent.

    Our plans for 2018 hopefully include having a kid and moving to be closer to family (a place with higher quality of life and lower cost of living, but lower salaries and more awkward access to mountains). A 7 year old hiked the whole Tour du Mont Blanc with us earlier this year, so we hope to raise our hypothetical kid to have that sort of sense of adventure and gumption.

    Tipi Walter
    BPL Member


    I think it all comes down to Priorities.  If you want to live outdoors for a lifetime then that becomes your main goal and all other things are secondary:  Job/career, reproduction and kids, spouse, debt and home ownership etc.

    If reproducing and raising kids is more important then as a rule you won’t be outside as much.

    There are all sorts of backpackers who are out more than they are in; Carrot Quinn comes to mind.  The German Tourist.  But they generally aren’t sitting around raising kids.

    And living outdoors also has the perk of no debts and no outstanding bills—therefore requiring minimal need for money and working.  It’s still possible to find a one-day-a-week job and be out all the time.  The goal of life?  See how little money you can make and still be happy.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    “If reproducing and raising kids is more important then as a rule you won’t be outside as much.”

    Perhaps in general, but it’s not a given.

    BPLer Erin McKittrick and her husband Hit spend more time, on longer trips, in more extreme places with their two toddlers (now grade schoolers) along than most name-brand high-mileage hikers.  Like 800 miles around Cook Inlet with a 2 and 4 year old.  And 500 miles (in Winter!) with their kids Katmai and Lituya along the Western Alaska coast from Nome to Kotzebue.  I was in Kotz while they were on the trail and in that flat terrain, it is very windy on top of 0 and 10F temps.

    Arguably, they camp out almost every day of the year since they live in a yurt off the road system.  But that keeps their expenses very low, she writes books, and they both do computer-based environmental advocacy.

    Nathan L
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Vermont

    David mentions a good point about younger children.  They too, like to get out and do what their parents do.

    My son is 5 and hikes with me and my 2 year-old just started hiking some.

    For those that have more experience with younger children and backpacking, next spring/summer will be the first time I want them all to start doing true backpacking.  I find myself questioning, can they do it?  Will my 2 yo daughter be able to walk any type of long distance?

    Any suggestions or advice from those of you that do or have backpacked with younger children?  I, of course, want them to have fun but how far can a 2 yo go in a day from your experience?  It seems that last summer (before she was 2) she would walk a little bit then want to be put in the pack, then walk again for a little bit.

    Greg Mihalik


    Locale: Colorado

    No kids here, but among friends (all working professional jobs)  we watched a lot of toddlers start out IN backpacks telemarking and doing hut-to-hut trips in sleds.  Once the kids reached 5 or 6 they were doing the hikes and ski trips under their own power. Yep, loads were heavier. Yep, things go slow and melt down. But for the most part our friends didn’t give up much.

    Steofan M
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bohemian Alps

    I just make the time.
    Yes, it has been said that it is selfish of me to leave job, family, friends and just go away, but whose life is it?
    It’s mine.
    Do I really care what anyone else thinks?
    No, not any more.
    Take time to plan carefully then leave the noise and clutter behind.

    Steofan M.

    Iago Vazquez
    BPL Member


    Locale: Boston & Galicia, Spain

    @David, this is probably a question for another thread. Every individual’s experiences vary on this front, so I think it’s hard for us to give a specific number of miles for a given age group.  Once in a while I see 3 y.o. hiking amazing treks. It looks like you get out a fair bit on hikes, so start judging by those numbers. Take that as a reference, and maybe consider shooting for double of that maximum, with a long midday/lunch/nap break. Water is an awesome motivator, as is having other kiddos tag along. Dips, amphibious hunts, water guns, fishing, etc. If you are comfortable with the idea, an inflatable boat even. See below:

    Final piece of advice, while I am comfortable carrying 15% of my body weight, my wife and I have always felt it important that our son got accustomed to pulling his own weight since he started walking, but I’ve always capped it below 10% throughout his life.

    Personally, at age three our son was hiking a couple of hours around state parks climbing small hills to viewpoints, but I never bothered checking mileage. Just happy being outside and having him enjoy the experience. At age four we started expanding little by little, and at five we graduated him to completing adult hikes (Mount Monadnock being his most challenging ones). He would finish exhausted but at a great pace. By 6 or 7 he had no problem completing them at about the same pace as book time and ending just tired. Now, at age 9, he is able to trek all day long on challenging routes with <10% body weight on his back without significant breaks compared to adults. He is not flying, but he is certainly not having many folks pass him. Still fully charged at bed time. And repeats the next day. Yesterday out of the blue, he asked if we could tackle the last 60 miles of the Camino this summer. It nags him that when my wife and I did it a couple of years back he was too young for the 15 mile days we had set to complete it with his grandmother.

    Ultimately, as parents, we are delighted in his current interest and only focused on continuing to encourage him hoping to cultivate a lifelong love for the outdoors.

    BPL Member


    Cat 1 here. Self employed tree surgeon with a host of sympathetic companies who aren’t fussed with me being about only half the year. The massive flip side to this is that I have had to move about a lot for work, this combined with disappearing fairly regularly has made it very difficult to make last relationships. It gets pretty lonely at times.

    BPL Member


    One more pushback on the comment that raising kids does not mix well with spending time outdoors. In most of the world kids have to adapt to what the parents need to do and want to do. This does not mean that safety and comfort ( and school) is not taken into consideration or at least that it should be, but I think kids benefit from going along for “the ride” ( or the hike..) versus everything revolving around them. Being taken out of school for a few days of adventure may well add to their education and growth as a whole..

    Matthew / BPL


    ^100% agree

    Nathan L
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Vermont

    @iago , I agree I should have put this question on another thread, I wish I could move it out because it does stand as its own question.

    My son this year at 4 years-old wanted to hike up to a 4000+ mountain Mt. Abraham on the Long Trail and we made it within .7 miles, but it was very windy that day and we stopped for lunch for longer than expected and he was playing with another kid, so I called it and hiked back down because it was getting late (he was ready to go all the way to the top).

    For my daughter’s first hike next year we will bring a soft carrier and let he walk until she doesn’t want to anymore and I can start determining miles.  It doesn’t matter to me if our first backpacking trip with her is only 2 miles in, to them they are in the woods, backpacking and if they are happy, I am happy.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    With kids, our guideline on backpacking trips was that they could “hike their age” i.e. 7 miles at age 7 with a minimal pack (mostly volume, not weight).  Our daughter is unusually strong and keeps active through Tang Soo Do (just got her black belt).  At 7, she went from Happy Isles to Half Dome back to Happy Isles in a day with a fair bit of hand holding and “energy pills” (M&Ms).  Her 12-year-old brother got no props from others, since she was by far the youngest on top that day but he hiked along, perfectly content to walk 16+ miles and 9,000 vertical up+down as long as we kept talking math.

    At age 10, she had no problem with South Rim – Colorado River – South Rim in 9 hours.  When she heard her brother had taken 9:15 round trip at age 12, she ran the last 2 miles up to the South Rim to be sure to beat his time.  Those are both hikes I’ve done many, many times, so we had the time of year, time of day, snacks, and water stops all dialed in.

    BPL Member


    great posts.  enjoy reading how people make it work.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    regarding @kat_p who commented ^^ that kids may just have to go along for the ride:

    Chase (our kid) went to a high-performing (high focus on college prep) high school – very intense environment. In the spring of 2015 (spring of his Junior year), I was immersed in a personal research project studying physiological training for backpacking and mountaineering w/Scott Johnston (Training for the New Alpinism). I spent 12-20 hours a week on this project – it was a big commitment. Most of that time was spent outside hiking and running and climbing, or weight training, collecting physiological data along the way.

    So I thought of something super cool.

    “Hey, Chase, I’m doing this thing. Wanna come along? Let’s homeschool it for a semester and build an education program around it.”

    So I met with his counselor, math teacher, science teacher, and English teacher – and we created a killer curriculum that synthesized all of the disciplines into a single, cohesive, multi-disciplinary project where he received credit from the school (of note: this was a public high school) and we had the chance to spend a load of time together outdoors.

    By then, he was dialed in for college, prepping for higher ed in music performance, so he still had to go to school for a few hours in the morning, but after his music classes were done, we often ate lunch and hit the trail for the rest of the day.

    It was a splendid time with my son, and I’ll cherish that semester for as long as I live.

    As a result of it, we created a calculus-based / physiologically-supported model for “trail difficulty” (hopefully we can publish this at some point!) and had a load of fun together outdoors for several months.

    Alexander S
    BPL Member


    I’m in option #2. My special lady friend loves to backpack any epic trip long or short.

    This brings up another problem: I like going solo on some longer trips. It clears the mental cobwebs and allows me to reset. Explaining to her why I like a solo hike (she hears: can’t come) on some juicy, epic, week long Cascades adventure is proving to be awkward at times.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Alexander: Since most of environmental engineering work takes me to exciting places like North Platte, Fresno and Compton and my electric-utility conferences are usually in places known for country music and fried food, my wife doesn’t begrudge me most of my trips.

    Then there was January 2009 when I had to leave the family in Alaska to oversee two weeks of clean-up work at an old sugar mill on the North Shore of Oahu.

    That was a little harder sell.

    BPL Member


    How and why I find the time to hike:

    Married 31 years ago (meeting as volunteers on the barque Elissa) when we were in our early 30’s, my husband and I were familiar and comfortable with being solo. Still, we were all the more grateful to have found one another, that’s for sure.

    I decided to hike the AT Spring ‘16 after 10 years of reading about it.
    I had met a woman who (almost) thru hiked the AT in her 30’s 25-30 years ago. I thought it was the coolest thing ever!
    My husband was totally uninterested but okay with my going on a long section hike.

    Having spent almost all of our marriage together 24/7 it was very weird being apart, very.
    Week 2 of the hike I was desperately homesick and had my husband in any way suggested I come home, I would have bolted.
    Bless him, he was caught up in my usual joy of the hike and was encouraging. He told me he was proud of me. That meant a lot.

    It would have been great to have begun hiking years earlier. I don’t really regret it for myself, but I do regret not exposing my two children to this wonderful sport/activity/lifestyle.
    Interestingly enough, my daughter, a military pilot (IP T-38’s) plans on trail riding the Smokies, possibly when I resume my hike near Roan Mountain next spring.

    Planning and timing and the desire to fulfill a dream fueled my first hike. So did the great good fortune to marry a man willing to flex his old solo muscle. How’d I find him? Planning and timing and the desire to fulfill a dream.

    BPL Member


    @ Claudia that was really nice to read. Congrats!

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