Backpacking the Trails
Backpacking involves hiking the trails and really about experiencing the wonders of the outdoors. You start at a trailhead and start hiking the trail system — in a national park, national forest, wilderness, etc. As you are hiking, you really start to appreciate nature and the beautiful views.
Backpacking doesn’t have to be a long mileage trip — it can be a short one too. The goal is to reach a campsite or decide where to dispersed camp. Then have a good time at camp, looking at the stars — if you can. The next day, you continue hiking, either to the next campsite or back to the trailhead.
Backpacking the trails can’t be possible without a backpack — hence the word backpacking. It’s about experiencing the outdoors in the backcountry. You have to figure out what kind of trail loop you will take or will it be a one way trip — like a thru-hike.
Backpacking is all about hiking in the backcountry. The backcountry is a place where there is no modern conveniences — no roads, no people (except you), no cell signal, no restrooms, and no established campsites. The only campsites you will find are primitive campsites — a clearing in the woods and maybe a firepit. That is where you setup camp for the night. Being in the backcountry can be exciting as you experience solitude and enjoy the surroundings.
You’re alone with no distractions from everyday life. But you have to be cautious of bears or other wildlife and watch your footing as you hike — as help may take a long time to reach you. That’s why it’s a great idea to bring a satellite messenger or a personal locator beacon (PLB) transponder.
In order to go backpacking, you need a backpack. Not just any backpack as you would use for work or school — you need a backpack for backpacking outdoors. They come in many sizes — they’re measured by liters — it could be from 40 liters to 100 liters. Usually, the average liters people carry are from 50 to 70. Whether you’re going ultralight or fully loaded — a backpack is obviously needed to hold your gear, food, and more.
Hiking the Trails
Hiking is the primary activity of backpacking. Really it’s an elaborate word for walking — but with a backpack on your back. You follow a trail and depending on the terrain — it can be easy or challenging. But everyone is up for a challenge, right? OK, maybe not everyone.
The trails can be well marked and easy to follow — as in the Great Smoky Mountains. Other times, it can be difficult to follow a clear path — and it’s why the trail system has blazes on the trees — as in the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia. Usually it’s either blue, yellow, or some kind of color.
Even so, it’s a great idea to bring a compass, map, and even a GPS. but a GPS is not absolute necessary. In most cases, the trails are usually easy to follow. Just have fun hiking along and taking in nature.
When you go on a backpacking trip, you have to decide what trails to take. In other words, you need to make a loop from the trailhead, follow some of the trails, and reach back to the starting trailhead. In figuring out what trails to take, you need to keep in mind where you will camp, how many nights camping, and the miles you think will work for you.
For example, day one, I may do 8 miles, reach camp. Day two, I may do 10 miles, reach second camp. Day three, I may do 5 miles back to the trailhead and end my backpacking trip. And that would be my loop.
Of course you may not be doing a loop and instead may be doing a thru-hike — hiking point A to B on a one way trip. Thru-hiking is different than doing a ordinarily loop. It involves hiking for miles on end, weeks on end, and may take several months to complete. A good example of thru-hiking, would be hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. That’s a long distance — and so it will take a few months to complete. Most people don’t end up finishing the thru-hike in one trip.
But hiking the Appalachian Trail is an extreme example of a thru-hike. Thru-hiking can be a whole lot shorter. For example, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania. It usually takes 5–7 days to complete and is about 70 miles.
Once you’ve decided enough hiking for the day. It’s time to setup camp. Find a place that is clear and get your tent or hammock out. Setting up shelter is the first priority. Then find a place away from your campsite, to hang your bear bag — at least get it ready. You still need your food to eat dinner or whatnot. Once your done eating for the night — hang the food and any odorous items in the bear bag. You don’t want any odorous items at your campsite.
The bears can easily smell it — so get the food and stuff away from your campsite. In the morning, go retrieve your bear bag, cook or eat breakfast, and enjoy the rest of your trip backpacking the trails. But, while you’re at camp, just enjoy your time and take a look at the stars.
Backpacking involves hiking the trails and really about experiencing the outdoors. You start at a trailhead and start hiking the trail system. You really start to appreciate nature and the beautiful views, as your hiking. Backpacking doesn’t have to be a long mileage trip — it can be a short one too.
The goal is to reach a campsite or decide where to dispersed camp. Then have a good time at camp, looking at the stars — if you can. The next day, you continue hiking, either to the next campsite or back to the trailhead. Backpacking the trails is a fantastic thing to do and feeling the sense of solitude in the backcountry is amazing. What are you waiting for? Start your own backpacking adventure and embrace the outdoors!
READ MORE ABOUT THE BACKCOUNTRY
Now you know what Backpacking is about — What about the Backcountry?
What Do You Think About Backpacking?
If you have any questions or comments about backpacking, please leave them in the comments below. I will be more than happy to help you out.