Learning Curve: Unpacking Backpacking

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Learning Curve: Unpacking Backpacking

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    Maggie Slepian
    BPL Member


    Companion forum thread to: Learning Curve: Unpacking Backpacking

    In a year of back-and-forth hiking plans and a busy career in backpacking media, Maggie works on understanding what backpacking means to her.

    BPL Member


    Lets gooooo!!!

    Looking forward to this one!

    Luke R


    Thanks for writing this. I relate with it for different reasons, but I often think about what my relationship is with hiking and oscillate between use, pleasure, escape, and rest. It’s been helpful for me to set goals in the last couple years with it. Im not a long distance hiker, so I decided to go from hiking a few times a year to hiking 250 miles during 2020. That was a huge accomplishment for me to finish, especially with a new baby and a full time job. I did often ask myself what I was trying to prove, though. I realize that it doesn’t matter to anyone how much I hike, and ironically that’s been my favorite part of it. This year I have set the goal of going on an overnight every month at least, and have done that so far. Less impressive but more meaningful to me than a mileage goal (albeit a low one). So far I’ve already hiked 210 miles so that’s nice for me since I’m halfway through the year. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post on here about it, as I have more reflections than I realized. Thank you for being honest in your article, as it got me thinking! Enjoy the CT

    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wine Country

    Lots to “unpack” there.

    I liked this line: “if you’re focusing entirely on something for work, it does, in some ways, become less appealing.” I reviewed concerts for a while, and it definitely altered the experience of the music for me…and not always for the better.

    But Maggie needs to find other ways to get what backpacking gives her. She needs to embrace dayhiking, taking tiny people to the park, some intense physical activity, even for a short time…all of those can help, and combined they can keep her sane when backpacking isn’t an option.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    As one who has hiked large sections of the AT (VA and PA) and was a professional trail builder on the PCT in 1980 (Snow Creek section above Palm Springs and near Wildwood, CA) I have varied perspectives on long trails. The AT was far too “busy” for me so I backpacked Pennsylvania’s Susquehannock Trail System with its excellent maps to find the solitude and beauty I needed.

    Building that stretch of the PCT from scratch (at $12.90/hour, a lot for laborer’s wages in 1980) I was able to truly appreciate what it took to build a trail in the wilderness. You sleep in your tent, cook on your backpacking stove and bathe in a very cold stream. In between you work your ass off in often dangerous conditions. But it was the experience of a lifetime for this backpacker. These experiences, which included designing and cutting cross country ski trails in Pennsylvania,  filled my summers when I wasn’t teaching high school.

    Scott H
    BPL Member


    I would not do this if I had to do it.  The whole appeal to me is that it is an escape, but reality always means escapes are short term.  I do not desire a thru hike, nor hope for one.  I hike my local trails, maybe once a year I will get a way for multiple days but the destination is as important to me as the hike when that comes.  I am glad that backpacking is not tied to my job.  I wish the writer the best.

    Through hiking to me feels more burden than blessing.  It is not something I particularly envy though I do pay attention to through hikers for educational purposes.

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