The response received to my prior post “A Shoulder Season of Life” is an example of the thoughtful BPL community that I’ve grown to love over the years. I thank everyone for their comments and encouragement.

I did hit the trail, practically forcing myself against my will; something akin to taking medicine that doesn’t taste good, but you take it because you know it’s going to make you better.  The forecast was crummy. I was out of shape.  I was not excited to go, except I knew I would feel better when I returned.  My chosen trail was close to home, a place familiar but still an area I’m getting to know.  A short, 7-mile round trip, less-than-24-hour jaunt on the PCT. Solo. A walk, food, silence, rest, and time in nature.

The medicine is working.  I find myself looking forward to the next dose.

A little while ago, @ Ryan Jordan asked BPLers to share their thoughts on the following:  “How has Backpacking Light helped you on your journey to enjoy the backcountry more?”  I’d like to share my response to his question because it sums up how I feel about what I’m going through and how this community is helping me through it.

“I am still learning…

BPL has helped me to realize that my journey doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to those with whom I share it, and to those who have seen me change over the years.

I learned this from those at BPL who have shared their journey with me.

I am still learning:

To get outside. To not pack my fears. To enjoy the company of a fellow backpacker. To be alone and enjoy that, too.

To embrace the silence on the trail because silence is so rare. To appreciate and even love the darkness. To feel comfortable inside my own head. To experience the awe and wonder that only time spent in creation can instill.

The weight of my pack is significant but it is the means, not the end, for an enjoyable trip.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable when things do not go according to plan. Indeed, the adventure really begins when things don’t go according to plan.

The most important weight I must remember to cut comes not from my pack but from my anxieties, the stress, and the frustrations of the world I am leaving behind at the trailhead. (Those weigh me down more than any piece of gear ever could.)

Sometimes you win. Sometimes the mountain wins. Not all peaks were meant to be bagged…not by me, anyhow.

“Wasting time” in the wilderness (daydreaming on the trail, skipping rocks on a lake and the like) is not wasteful at all. Rather, backpacking is the furnace, anvil, and hammer that has forged me into a more thoughtful and understanding husband, father, and friend.

As rewarding as it is to learn, sharing that knowledge with others is more rewarding still.

The community at BPL has taught me so much and I have learned a lot; but I am still learning. To me, that is the most important lesson anyone can learn, here at BPL or anywhere—never stop learning.”

Thank you all,