6 Reasons You Should Backpack (At Least Once in Your Life)

With spring break in college comes planning. With planning comes responsibility, and let's be real, no college student wants any more of that. This year, I was the person who was "down for anything.” One of my friends took me too literally, so next thing I know I'm being dragged nine hours to a place called Big Bend to go backpacking. "Backpacking?" People would look at me shocked as I told them my plans. Naturally, my first reaction was to take offense. I'm the type of person to act ten times tougher than I actually am so I would reply, "I'll be fine I'm not worried." But then again, I'm also the type of person who uses Siri to get around Austin.  

The inevitable worry started seeping in during the long drive. After a near death experience with a deer crossing the road, getting pulled over for going 20 mph over the speed limit (I only got a warning though thankfully) and losing service for the last two hours of the car trip, it finally dawned on me what I was actually about to do. I was going to sleep in the mountains for two nights with nothing but what I stuffed into my backpack. And why? I had no freaking clue. 

With low expectations and a lot of water bottles, a group of nine of my friends and I set out into Big Bend state park. This may not be an over-glorified spring break party story, but it's still a good one, filled with lots of memories and meaningful takeaways.

Here are 6 reasons why you should go on a backpacking trip at least once: 

1) You have to stop and look around for a while 

In the words of Ferris Bueller, "if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I have always thought I understood this sentiment, however haven't fully lived it until backpacking. Trekking over rocks and cacti, I was constantly looking down at where I was stepping, making sure I didn't make a wrong move. I, quite literally, had to remind myself to slow down pause and look around at the scenery. And man was it a sight to see. 

 

2) Disconnect to Connect, in the purest form 

The only time I even touched my phone was for a photo or to use my flashlight. I couldn't text. Couldn't Snapchat. Couldn’t check Instagram. Couldn’t check Facebook. And the worst of it all, no memes. For the first time ever I was purely unplugged. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. Without the invisible tug of curiosity in your pocket about the outside world, I felt like I was truly present, not worrying about anything but our little world on the side of the mountain. 

 

3) Bed, Bathrooms, and Showers: Three things you should love way more

Let's be honest. As soon as someone says "Backpacking" the first two thoughts that come to mind are 1) no bathroom and 2) no shower. Yes this part of the trip kind of sucked. But, using a positive outlook, it made me really appreciate those things. A frequent question among the group was: “What do you miss more? A bathroom, a shower, or your bed?” Day-to-day we all have our routine. Wake up in your comfy bed, go shower, etc. It’s a luxury we simply assume will be at our convenience. Going without them makes you notice just how lucky we all are.

 

4) Pushing the Limits  

You know that feeling when you’re working out and you mentally convince yourself you can’t go a second longer and the only option you have is to stop right then and there? Well, you can’t think like this when you’re hiking with a group. You can’t stop. You won’t be at the right spot for the campsite that night if you stop. Plus, you’ll be the butt of a lot of jokes if you wimp out. It’s a cool feeling to push past that threshold. Your mind constrains what your body is physically capable of doing, which is a pretty neat realization I had. The second day of the trip we all backpacked about 13 miles, which is way further than any of us thought possible.

 

5) Views and Vibes

This picture speaks for itself.

 

 

6) Because why not?

The sad truth is that even in your college social life you get in a routine. You’ve got a class schedule or social schedule and live off exactly that—a schedule. Everything is set in stone or in this case ink in your planner. We all go through the same motions—the same thing—over and over for four years. Backpacking was such a nice break to the norm. It was a new and unknown social setting. It was unlike any other experience I’ve had to date. There’s really no excuse to not try new things, so the last reason to go backpacking is why not go?  

 

Photos provided by Allison Dyer.