Last Monday I attended a class on light-weight backpacking at my local REI store. The class re-energized my long-term goal to hike the Washington state portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington.
In the summer of 2009 my son and I hiked 90 miles of it in seven days. We started at Stevens Pass and ended at Snoqualmie Pass east of Seattle. We had great weather except for the last 24 hours, where we hiked through a cold, wet fog and heavy drizzle. It was a trip that whetted my appetite for more. I am planning to hike another section in 2013.
A key component to long-distance hiking is to keep your backpacking basics to a minimum, ideally under twenty pounds. This include the pack, sleep system, shelter, clothes and cooking gear. This does not include food, which is usually about two and half pounds per day. My pack for a week-long trip should start at 35-40 pounds, not including water, but in 2009 it was over 50 pounds. I need to lose pack weight.
As a child, I first saw people with strange monstrous packs when our family went on a short nature hike near Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. As we meanders and strolled towards Marymere Falls, a group of backpackers marched by us as they headed down out of the mountains. I asked my dad about the packs and people. He told me about backpacking and how hikers could travel far into the mountains. My thirst for the high alpine adventure started that day.
One thing backpacking has taught me is how little we truly NEED to survive. I can carry it all on my back if I choose. When I return, I do appreciate a dry house, warm bed, running water, flush toilets, fresh vegetables and electrical appliances (like my laptop). Still backpacking is a way of cleansing my soul and mind of my perceived need for more stuff. (Except perhaps my need for more light-weight backpacking stuff.)
Backpacking gives me a deep appreciation for Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30.
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
How do you keep your soul light when you are weary?
Lord Jesus, let us find rest for our weary souls in you.
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Spending time in nature does wonders for our physical bodies, mental health, and often nourishes our spiritual souls. There are so many options to choose from when it come to enjoying nature; hiking, biking, walking, running, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, gardening, geocaching, etc … as the Nike company slogan says…. “Just Do It”