Hey Everyone! I hope everything is great with you today. Today we are continuing Backpacking theme. This weeks question "Where can I backpack at?" This is a good question with lots of answers. I'm going to treat this series as if I'm talking to someone that is new to backpacking. If your new to backpacking everything is going to feel strange. If you have never camped before just setting up your tent or hammock will be a chore. My first bit of advice is to get used to all of your equipment before you go on any backpacking trip. You can work your way up to a bona fide backpacking trip. The first place I would start is your backyard. Learn how to set up your tent. Find a good spot in your backyard and practice setting up your tent. Depending on your tent learn how to stake it out how to put on the rain fly. Do it a few times so it becomes easy for you. You don't want to be learning how in the woods after a long hike to your campsite. Blow up your sleeping pad and put out your sleeping bag just as you would or think you would while out in the woods. Learn how to use your camp stove and how to make your dinner, coffee or whatever you're going to eat out there. This will be important because if you mess this up while out there there is no fridge to raid , you just get hungry. Make sure you know how to use your water filtration system and how to refill your water bottles. Hydration is very important. Hiking with a full pack on your back is hard work and you will sweat! Water is heavy! This is a number that you will remember each liter of water weighs 2.2 lbs. So if you have 2 liters of water 4.4 lbs. This is on top of all of the other stuff that you will be carrying . But you can't skimp on water it is a must have while in the wilderness so knowing how to filter it is essential. The next thing is to sleep outside. Learn how to get comfortable in your tent. It is a different sleeping experience than in your cosy bed. I know all of this seems silly but it is learning that has to be done somewhere and in your backyard is a great place to start. If you have kids they will have fun camping with you. You also have a bathroom near-by. Using the bathroom is not a skill to learn at home your neighbors will not appreciate this. LOL Thats a skill you will have to learn in the wilderness. After you get the backyard camping and all of your gear figured out its time to step it up.
The next place I would go to backpack is State Parks. State Parks are great resources to learn backpacking. I live near a state park and its where I try out new gear. Practice hiking with a full pack on and have car camped several times. Many State parks have back country camping which means that you have to hike in to a specific spot that you usually have to reserve. I have had a ball at some of these parks and they can be a great place to learn how to backpack. The sites can be from very sparse to sites with a picnic table and fire ring. Most of them do have some sort of pit toilet near by so using the bathroom in the woods isn't allowed here to protect the environment . (leave no trace has been discussed in a former blog). This will seem like an big adventure the first couple of times you do it and it is! You won't have running water many of the places don't have cell coverage so no phone. They don't have lights so when the sun goes down lights out! No trash cans so you haul your trash out with you. Its a very new experience. At night there is no noise of civilization just the noise of the forest! And its loud! Bring ear plugs. A squirrel scampering across the forest floor sounds like an elephant to ears that haven't heard them before. But you won't hear a deer who may be sleeping 50 foot from you. Around 2:00 am in the morning everything gets quiet. All the animals have gone to sleep. When you wake up in the morning its still quiet except for a couple of birds chirping. I tell you about this because on your first night backpacking its different from car camping or in your backyard. This is where you'll feel like you're in the wilderness.
National Parks and National Forest are the next places I would venture out to backpack. This is where I am in my backpacking. I still like to go to some State Parks and go to places I haven't been yet but National Parks and Forest are where I do most of my backpacking. National Parks and National Forest are larger and wide open spaces. National Parks have rules and regulations and permitting that have to be adhered to because so many people go and we want to protect this wonderful resource and environment. They usually have specific camping spots in the wilderness that you camp at. But these places are beautiful and have spectacular views that's why they became National Parks in the first place to protect the beauty. There are thousands and thousands of trails in the National Parks system. People from all over the world come to the US just to go to our parks. In the back country there are less amenities than the state parks. Usually no bathroom so you will have to learn how and where to poop in the woods. Leave no Trace is a big deal in these area's because we want to leave this great resource for our grandchildren and theirs to enjoy like we do. In some National Parks and most of the National Forrest there is what's called dispersed camping . Which means you can camp anywhere you like along the trail. These sites will not have any amenities except maybe a man made fire ring that someone before you made from stones that they gathered. This year I'm exploring the National Forest of North Carolina and am getting ready for my first backpacking trip of the year. It will be a small one because I still have my Covid weight on and I am out of shape but I'm looking forward to my time in the woods again.
Backpacking is a wonderful experience and way of life really. Until next week keep exploring and keep shooting . Get Outside!