Jan 13, 2021 at 9:22 pm #3693684
Well said, Tom.Jan 13, 2021 at 9:33 pm #3693691jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I remember describing a backpacking trip to a neighbor where I’d had a bit of inadvertent suffering. “Oh well, no pain no gain!” I chirped.
He replied, “No pain…no pain.” And that’s become my mantra.
Actually, I think it’s a sensible mantra in all things physical. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong, in most instances.
Suffering is inevitable and we’ll all have our share. I like to immerse myself in nature. Pain and suffering keep me from that. I certainly don’t backpack to suffer. That said, given my body, I usually experience a fair amount of pain or exhaustion (or cold and wet) at several points in all my trips. And it’s true, accepting this and taking it in stride so to speak is part of the whole canoli.Jan 13, 2021 at 9:57 pm #3693696
““much like packing your fears”
Why is that arrogant?”
IMO (not so popular around here… :-), what no doubt started out as a way to get people to contemplate what they bring and why they bring it has kinda morphed into, at times, if I don’t think it’s necessary then you shouldn’t either, you must be packing your fears. I think it’s outgrown its original purpose and has become a throwaway line (like HYOH).Jan 13, 2021 at 10:00 pm #3693697
“Pack your own fears. Hike your own hike.”
It is a little bit of gas lighting sometimes, but requires a bit of nuanced understanding of the source and motivation. Sometimes hard to sort out.Jan 13, 2021 at 10:09 pm #3693698KarenBPL Member
I don’t even get what the bickering is about. Huh? Oh well. The conversation is suffering.
Be careful, someone’s challenge is someone’s suffering is someone’s normal through hike.
I took my younger son when he was 15 on his first backpack trip. My kids did a lot of camping and day hiking with me but not backpacking, mostly because I was selfish; I wanted to enjoy my trips and since the burden was 100% on me (my husband usually doesn’t go), I didn’t bring them along. So not until 15 for a first trip. Day one was sunny and windy, and everyone had fun. The first 8 miles were easy, and we pitched a nice camp, played frisbee, nice evening. He loved backpacking!
Woke up to fierce wind and intermittent spritzes of cold rain. Morning wasn’t terrible but as the day went on, we got wetter and colder. Some snow, some rain, hail, lots of wind, hard elevation losses and gains, wading through wet tussocks. 100s of switchbacks up a steep hill. We were saturated and exhausted. I found out how much a cotton hoody weighs when wet (I hadn’t checked to see what my son was wearing, should have!). I almost buried that sucker under a shrub! Finally, we emerged on a hilltop in thick fog. The rest of the group was well ahead, and it was just my son and I at the back. We couldn’t see or hear the group, hadn’t seen them in 1/2 hour, and couldn’t find the next cairn in the fog. Finally, he quit! he sat down on a boulder and waited to die. I cajoled, encouraged, urged, yelled, threatened, bribed and still he sat. As far as we knew, the group was gone without us. In my head I went through everything we each had with us, to determine if we could survive where we were. I had the tent, but my husband – with the group – had all the food and the gas for the stove. I figured we’d be ok for a night, but it would be better to continue, at least find a slightly more sheltered location for the tent.
I was not ready to die. I picked up my trekking pole and started whacking the kid with it! (Don’t call child services; he’s 18 now. This was not my normal mode of parenting.) That worked! A few good hits (no injuries) and he got up and started walking again, we found our way back to the cairns. Within 15 minutes we found the emergency shelter, and our group. It rained hard for 12 hours, and the next day we hiked out in torrential daylong rain. He will never go backpacking again, too much suffering. I’ve probably told you all this story before.Jan 13, 2021 at 10:51 pm #3693704W I S N E R !BPL Member
Yes, well said Tom.Jan 13, 2021 at 10:52 pm #3693705
“It is a little bit of gas lighting sometimes, but requires a bit of nuanced understanding of the source and motivation. Sometimes hard to sort out.“
Agreed. I know that many people use the phrase trying to be helpful, and that the overall intent of the phrase is to be helpful.Jan 14, 2021 at 3:52 am #3693715Russ WBPL Member
@gatome83Locale: Southeastern US
If I think back over decades of backpacking, my fondest memories aren’t of bluebirds and clear skies. The best stories involved treacherous weather, bear encounters, perils of some sort. As a buddy of mine said to me as we sacrificed ourselves to the mosquito hordes in the Sierras 2 summers ago, “Embrace the suck!”. One of the best trips ever.Jan 14, 2021 at 6:43 am #3693723Russ WBPL Member
@gatome83Locale: Southeastern US
If I think back over decades of backpacking, my fondest memories aren’t of bluebirds and clear skies. The best stories involved treacherous weather, bear encounters, perils of some sort. As a buddy of mine said to me as we sacrificed ourselves to the mosquito hordes in the Sierras 2 summers ago, “Embrace the suck!”. One of the best trips ever.Jan 14, 2021 at 6:46 am #3693724Kevin BabioneBPL Member
@Doug-I – No offense taken at all…When I said “anybody” I meant to include myself. I’ve pushed through significant knee pain while backpacking to finish a trip and would do so again if the trip warranted it. Every trip, and every person, has their own reasons for going out. If I’m taking a newbie on a trip and they’re miserable and convinced that backpacking isn’t for them then we’ll bail (happily this has never happened to me). Alternatively, if I’m with someone for whom the trip is the “trip of a lifetime” I’ll push myself as hard as I possibly can to ensure that their trip is great – as I would for myself.
It wasn’t clear from the article, but perhaps Maggie was hiking with someone for whom the Ouachita Trail WAS that “trip of a lifetime” and that if she bailed the trip, and dream, would end for the other hiker.Jan 14, 2021 at 7:40 am #3693731Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
I’m going to add my voice to those who have taken the position that we don’t go backpacking to suffer, or even to enjoying suffering. We go backpacking for joy. The tone of this article did not manage to communicate with me on any level because of that. If I am suffering on a backpacking trip, the first thing I am going to do is to look for a way to stop the suffering—and that includes turning around on the trip.
Wasn’t it Yvon Chouinard who said that “adventure is just bad planning?”Jan 14, 2021 at 8:20 am #3693739
“A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches – that is the right and privilege of any free American.” – Edward AbbeyJan 14, 2021 at 9:35 am #3693746KatttBPL Member
^^^ Indeed ! Thanks for this Ryan.
I have toyed with the idea of submitting a write up here but this thread kinda shut that door for me. No big loss ;)Jan 14, 2021 at 10:45 am #3693761
I kinda get where Maggie is coming from. I agree that the title could have been different, which might have elicited different responses than many posted here. Lessons learned from suffering, as someone (Jon I think) said, might have been better. And then focusing on those lessons instead of the suffering might have been a better story structure, at least for the experienced backpackers here.
Minor points though. I appreciate Maggie sharing the story, I think many of us have been there, done that over our backpacking careers. I know I have, which is one of the things that led me to adopt Tom’s position in his post. I’m not into suffering is probably better said that I’m no longer into suffering (this applies to me, not extending it to anyone else).
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