You shift the weight of your pack and look ahead on the trail you are hiking. You can finally see the sky peeking through the trees. It’s a welcome sight after miles on the trail working your way towards the summit, seeing only a sea of greens and browns. Wiping the sweat from your brow, you lean against a tree before stepping out on the final bit of your ascent.
Finally, the path widens, and you step into an opening. The view takes your breath away: you can see for miles. You get a rush, a natural high. It’s like you’ve hiked to the top of the world.
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a quick two-mile hike or if you’re on a multi-day hike. I think it does the body and mind well to unplug for some amount of time. It’s so easy to get caught up in life, forgetting to decompress. Spending time outdoors enjoying nature’s beauty is my preferred method to do just that. Overnight backpacking, in particular, recharges my batteries. When you’re out in the wilderness, life becomes less complicated. For me, it’s back to the basics: food, water, and shelter. It gives you time to take in the beauty of the world in which we live without all the other interruptions and distractions we experience on a daily basis.
While I’ve always loved the outdoors, my interest in overnight backpacking was really sparked after an unplanned 11-mile day hike with a friend. We hiked to the summit of Mount LeConte in Tennessee during the solar eclipse in 2017. There was a bond shared among the 25 or so people who made the trek up and watched darkness descend upon us for almost a full minute. It was magical really: the temperature dropped, and there was complete silence before the birds started chirping again. I assume they thought it was morning.
Everyone was in awe of what was happening in the little section of the world around us. There was no cell phone service, no noise or light pollution — just a group of former strangers now sharing the raw, uninterrupted beauty of nature. Since that hike, we’ve completed two 30-mile sections of the Appalachian Trail, with many more hiking adventures to go.
You don’t have to travel far or climb great heights to derive enjoyment from the outdoors. There are many places in our area to escape the everyday grind. We have various parks nestled along rivers and lakes in place for our enjoyment. There are many online resources to help you find the perfect spot for your next hike — you just might have to plug in before you unplug for your next adventure.