What is Backpacking, Exactly?

Costa Rica.friendsIn the most basic sense, backpacking is camping where you pack all of your daily needs—food, clothing, shelter, M&M’s—into a pack you wear on your back, moving to your new location most days.  Backpacking is “rustic,” meaning you usually camp in designated areas (not always) that are nothing more than bare spots on the ground—no toilets or running water.  Often intimidating to first-timers, it needn’t be. Backpacking is intensely rewarding, offering you deep connection with the natural world and intimate experiences with those you travel with. People, it’s good to unplug sometimes. Backpacking is a social activity!

Time Out:  Did You Just Say, “No Toilets”?

While level of remoteness varies, when backpacking you are on your own, so to speak.  We will learn all of the following even on this first trip:

  • How to poop in the woods! (best lecture ever, I promise)
  • How to cook on tiny butane camping stoves called Pocket Rockets
  • How to properly treat water to avoid waterborne critters that make you sick
  • How to safely store your food so non-waterborne critters don’t eat it
  • How to stay dry and warm, carefully treat and enjoy a tent, how to sleep comfortably and well
  • How to be aware of yourself in natural settings (weather awareness, body awareness, safety awareness)
  • How to be comfortable being with less—including less noise.
  • How to be a responsible hiker, practicing “Leave No Trace” principles the entire trip

Am I Strong Enoubackpacking.stovegh To Do This?

Yes! While there will be some physical challenge (tired legs, sore shoulders), this is not intended to be a grueling trip. We will hike about 2 miles the first evening, 6 the next day, and about 2 on the last. We will have lots of time for hanging out, fishing, playing cards, writing in a journal, looking at ants on the ground, reading, and the like.

Where Do You Go?

The Manistee River Trail, about 15 miles east of Cadillac, Michigan. In my opinion, it is the prettiest trail in the Lower Peninsula.

How Much Do I Tip the Guide?

You won’t need to tip your leader at all, because you will be doing all of your own work! You’ll be hiking, cooking in a group of 3, setting up your own tent, and basically doing the trip.

Is Backpacking Dangerous….Will a Bear Eat Me?

There is no such thing as “safe,” so I wouldn’t want to use that word. But backpacking is an enjoyable experience that is easily done comfortably and without incident. You will not be eaten by a bear. If we do see a bear, it will be the highlight of the trip!