Getting Started Backpacking

Training for Backpacking

Page 1 - Have Realistic Expectations

Page 2 - Training for Backpacking

Backpacking is all about walking.

The "first step" to preparing physically for a backpacking trip is to become a frequent walker.

In the weeks before your trip look for instances where you can take some long walks, perhaps walking to your destinations a few times instead of driving.

It definitely helps to take some training walks with a weighted pack, to get your shoulders, back, and legs adjusted to carrying a heavy load.

I use some old backpacks for this purpose, rather than my good ones that I take on trips.

It can take some time to get adjusted to carrying heavy loads, particularly if you have not backpacked before. In preparing for his first Pacific Crest Trail journey, adventurer Ray Jardine and his wife Jenny trained for a whole year. Most of us are not going to do that, but the more you train with weight on your back the more pleasurable your backpack trip will be.

You might put some bodybuilding weights in the backpack, or if practical consider carrying an empty backpack to a store when you go shopping, then walking home with your purchases in the pack.

Positive Life Choice

Backpacking is a positive life choice, not only because of the chance to be out in the real incredible, gorgeous places on this earth that few people see, but it causes you to slow down to observe life at a slower pace, at a walk.

Why is this good? Read what some authors have written about the benefits of walking:

"If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man's swinging dumb-bells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!"

Henry David Thoreau : Walking

"A man must invest himself near at hand and in common things, and be content with a steady and moderate return, if he would know the blessedness of a cheerful heart and the sweetness of a walk over the round earth"

John Burroughs: The Exhilarations of the Road

"His party, full of indoor philosophy, failed to see the natural beauty and fullness of promise of my wild plan and laughed at in good-natured ignorance, as if it were necessarily amusing to imagine that Boston people might be led to accept Sierra manifestations of God at the price of rough camping"

"He hoped my guardian angel would intimate that my probation was at a close. Then I was to roll up my herbariums, sketches, and poems (though I never knew I had any poems), and come to his house; and when I tired of him and his humble surrounding, he would show me to better people."

"But there remained many a forest to wander through, many a mountain and glacier to cross. . ."

John Muir, from Emerson at Yosemite.

"I may suggest that there is a different kind of travel, travel to see nothing and to see nobody, but the squirrel and muskrats and woodchucks and clouds and trees."

Lin Yutang: On Going About and Seeing Things

'On any morning of spring sunshine, how many mortals find themselves so much at peace that they are able to give themselves wholly to delight in the glory of heaven and of earth? "

George Gissing: Walking Moods


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