"I can't go 18 hours without a shower" "Does that tent have room service?" "Camping just isn't my thing". If I had a dollar for every time someone gave me a bogus excuse for why they don't go camping, I'd have at least $7. Fortunately the crew I spent time with this weekend had no excuses. Eight of us went on a two day hiking adventure where we covered about 9 1/2 miles each day. That means bringing tents, sleeping pads/bags, food, water, water filtration devices and my camera gear (I'm guessing my pack was around 30 lbs). For some people it was their first backpacking experience, and even their first hiking endeavor, for others it was second nature to sleep under the trees. We did a trail just south of Santa Barbara called Sespe Creek Trail to Willet hot springs, which is only about 75 minutes outside of LA for my Cali friends. We conquered the 9.5 mile trek along a very dry creek in about 5 hours on the way to the springs and in 4 hours on the way out the next day. It was an exhausting mental and physical battle both times. Once I caught myself thinking, "Why in the hell are you doing this?" (okay, maybe like 145 times I thought that during the hike). Needless to say, I discovered what I think are 3 major benefits from hiking.
1. Resilience: You get tired. You get hot, cold, blistered, chapped, chaffed, bruised and if you're careless, bloody, but you live. You come to mental barriers where you just push through, physical pains that you brush off, and you do what has to be done. You take each obstacle in stride, expelling the occasional 4 letter word to blow off some frustration, but holy hell when you arrive and take the pack off you feel on top of the world. Sigh of relief, swig of whiskey, success.
2.Personal Growth: When's the last time you did something that really challenged yourself? Camping may be the easiest way to stretch the limits of your comfort zone. After the learning curve of setting up a camp and gaining the strength after hiking/backpacking a tough trail you have a true sense of accomplishment. Yes, when you set up your first tent you will be high-fiving and feeling on top of the world. Don't believe me? Go camping and try it ; )
3. Clarity: Time in nature means time to re-connect in the most honest way. No cell phone service= no mindless scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Instead you have lakes, natural hot springs, fire pits and star gazing. After a day of backpacking, a night of camping or even just a few hours of hiking you start to center yourself around what is really important.
Is there something you find beneficial from these activities? Send your thoughts below, always interested if it resonates with other people as well. I hope everyone has a beautiful week, find some time to get out and get away from your cell phone. (Oh, I leave in just over a month. Time to get busy!)
"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory."
• George Patton