Apr 27, 2021 at 9:00 am #3710516Maggie SlepianBPL Member
Companion forum thread to: Learning Curve: What I Learned From Taking a Beginner into the Backcountry
I thought I knew how to take first-time backpackers out, but I’d never actually taken a bare beginner into the backcountry.Apr 27, 2021 at 10:23 am #3710526
Thanks for the article – it was fun to read. I’ve taken a number of people on their first backpacking trip, but never someone who had never even car camped in a campground. A couple fond memories:
- One of my regular partners now brought a water filter (he didn’t trust my UV) and a 2-lb first aid kit on our first trip together (I had told him I was bringing both). He loved the UV and returned the filter, unopened, when we got home.
- I took a couple for an overnight on the AT. We had carefully talked about each of the things they were bringing, but when we got to the shelter for the night the guy pulled out a rather large bluetooth speaker and a full glass bottle of Jack Daniels!
As a leader of adults we can only do so much to pass on guidelines and suggestions. With kids you can lay everything out and not let them take, for example, the 4-lb hatchet. As long as adults don’t complain about the choice they made I really don’t care. I just don’t want to ever be in the “I told you so” world where someone is miserable and complaining when they directly ignored some of my hard-earned backcountry wisdom. I try to be pretty careful about my hiking partners – both new and experienced.Apr 27, 2021 at 2:08 pm #3710556Michael BBPL Member
I took my 3 year old for his first overnight trek out this weekend, only an easy 1.3 miler. Fun, but I have not carried that much weight (30lb backpack, 30lb child in my arms much of the way!) in a while. Luckily it was short and only about 5-600 feet elevation gain. Note the lack of a backpack in the last pic :)Apr 27, 2021 at 2:26 pm #3710560Jason McSpaddenBPL Member
@jbmcsr1Locale: Rocky Mountains
“and a full glass bottle of Jack Daniels!” If someone “wants” to carry the whiskey–I’ll let them!Apr 27, 2021 at 3:32 pm #3710566JCHBPL Member
“and a full glass bottle of Jack Daniels!”
Actually…I was that guy, once. But only once. And it was a full glass bottle of Pampero Aniversario. Cumberland Island, Ga in August, 90 deg, 90% humidity, with 2 gallon jugs of water in my 80L Kelty pack. It was miserable. Come to think of it, that Aniversario probably saved my butt :)Apr 28, 2021 at 5:55 am #3710635
He never complained and, at the end, the couple told me that they both really enjoyed the trip. I’ll confess that I enjoyed lightening his load a bit…Apr 28, 2021 at 6:50 am #3710640dirtbagBPL Member
Yeah, I can totally relate to all of this, lol. Many many times I have brought out total beginners with me. I dont mind because I always expect and prepare for the worse.. for myself and them. I does kill me when they do not heed to my advice pre trip!! Im telling them this information for a reason!!! It will make the trip and experience more enjoyable not only for myself.. but for them also! As for my kids.. I have taken all 3 of them out with me since they were about 5 or 6 years old.. and back in those days, my goodness it was a LOT of work on my part!!.. Just inflating 3 or 4 pads was killer, lol. Now, thankfully they are all older and have the knowledge and experience to handle their own, especially my son!Apr 28, 2021 at 7:32 am #3710645Dustin VBPL Member
Very well written article with an excellent last line that tied it all together.
It reminded me of the time I took my girlfriend backpacking. She did the hiking well and she was warm enough. Overnight, cool breezes blew, the squirrels scampered in the trees and coyotes howled periodically.
To her, it sounded like the coyotes had surrounded the tent and were closing in. I mumbled something about how they were a lot farther away than they sounded and that they had no interest in us and fell back to sleep, contented by the nighttime sounds. She spent the night staring angrily at me while I snored and shifted.
She still married me, but she won’t backpack with me again. She sleeps well, listening to the coyotes from inside the house.Apr 28, 2021 at 7:33 am #3710646Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
The last time I took complete beginners on a trip, two of them (my nephew and his friend) were engineers. Their S/O were not. But boy, did those engineers ask questions! They wanted to know everything beforehand, and they wanted to know how everything worked, as well. They wanted to set up the tent, work the stove, filter the water, etc. It was as if they were preparing for a test later in the week.
We had a dream trip–quite likely because of their inherent philosophy of not wanting to leave anything to chance or ignorance. Plus, they loved every single minute of it.Apr 28, 2021 at 7:55 am #3710647
For better or worse, when I take a beginner out I specifically tell them NOT to buy anything for the trip (they don’t always listen). I try to appeal to them by letting them try different things (I’ve tried a lot of different gear and have held onto almost all of it). I give them a pretty short list of things that they need to bring (usually just clothing) and I give them a WP stuff sack in which to put it. As we plan the trip I’ll repeat my mantra to them: “The pack is the last thing you should buy – wait until you know the size of the rest of your gear.” At least a couple of them have shown up with brand new packs to try out. Sigh.
As Dirtbag says, it’s a lot of extra work to take a newbie into the woods, but I know that in advance and am taking them because I want them to love it!
The number one affliction I’ve seen with first-timers is hotspots and blisters. I pack extra leukotape expecting that they will have blisters and I’m usually right. I’ve had 3-4 trips where I pick someone up and they excitedly proclaim: “Look – I bought these new hiking boots at (insert big box store name here) last night and I can’t wait to try them.” Oh well…Even though I haven’t suffered from blisters in years, with first-timers I take my shoes and socks off at every break to examine my feet for hotspots and “require” them to do the same. It’s a lot easier to slap a piece of tape on a red heel early than to treat big blisters later in the day.
Newbie participation once in camp definitely varies. Some of them are so shot from hiking that as soon as I set up their tent and inflate their pad they crawl in and lay down (Dirtbag had a good story about a guy like that earlier this year). Others are eager to learn about setting everything up, starting a fire, working the stove, and especially hanging the bear bag. It’s all good!Apr 28, 2021 at 8:14 am #3710650Jon FongBPL Member
@jonfongLocale: FLAT CAT GEAR
When you do something for a number of years, it is hard to think like a beginner. I have been playing guitar for many years. A good way to understand what a beginner is going through is to try and see things through their eye. As a guitar player, a simple way is to flip your guitar over, for me that would be cording with my right hand and picking with my left. Very humbling.
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