1) Rewards don’t come easily

We hike miles for hours, days, and weeks to summit high points, discover new places, and reach destinations. We choose not to experience the world from the scenic car pull offs, and that is why we remember these moments. A reward is something given in return of effort. Although a backpacker’s reward is normally not physical, it is something far more valuable.


2) Take each day with a stride

For us, it is a literal stride. Thousands of them a day, over creeks and crevasses. We cannot look at the final destination too soon, if we do we will feel nothing but frustration. Taking small steps leads to big places. It allows us to understand that in the natural world, there is no such thing as cars or computers. We simply take one step further to get one step closer.

3) It’s all about mentality

The only thing that stops us from succeeding is ourselves. If we tell ourselves we can conquer it, we can. If we tell ourselves we will not make it, we won’t. The moment I started hiking and backpacking was the moment I also started achieving. The trail may seem long and our body may seem weak, but it’s up to us if we overcome it.




4) Embrace the unknown

There may be a bear around the trail bend, a storm may appear on a bottleneck, and the most draw-dropping view could be hidden behind the brush. We learn not to fear, but to embrace. Life is too short to live in fear and regret. We can never know what lies ahead, which means we may only choose to let it ruin us or define us.


5) Things are only things

The common saying stays true: that material possessions are not as important as they seem. All we need is enough to survive. On normal circumstances, we must take all our most important belongings and fit them into a single backpack. It is with those small possessions alone, we are happiest.


6) We must listen to our surroundings

This is a survival instinct in the backwoods and a determinate to follow our hearts away from trails. We learn to listen and listen to learn.




7) We cannot define Earth’s beauty

It doesn’t matter what we believe, if we believe, or why we believe - we cannot define the beauty of Earth. We are placed on a perch to look down upon a valley that we cannot describe. It simply cannot be done.


8) Life’s not a race—it’s a journey

We do not challenge the forest to a duel. In the backpackers land, society dissipates along with competition, greed, and pressure. It is only us in a place bigger than words. We do not dare to challenge it or attempt to conquer it, we are only there to explore it and appreciate it. The journey is a separate life, which only those who live it can understand.



1 Comment

  1. Bruce Gezon on August 5, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    Shalee, you have wisdom & a perspective of life beyond your young years. Amazing thought provoking blog. Thanks for sharing.

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