Backpacking is Escapism
Backpacking is escapism. This is one of my favorite things about it. Letting go of everything shit in the world, letting the sun dictate the timing of your day, settling into a primitive routine, and getting lost in the simple but magnificent beauty around you.
I don't live any kind of nomadic lifestyle occupied by odd jobs and time spent on the trail. I work Monday through Friday, 9-5. I own a home. I own a car. I have a child. I have lots of bills every month. I have people who rely on me. Going on months long hikes is not in the cards for me in the near future. My escapes are enjoyed in smaller chunks, but when I am able to get away it's like disappearing. It's freeing and exhilarating.
While in Colorado this past summer I was able to be on the trail for 2 weeks. In the Spring I spent 7 days in the woods of western Michigan. These stretches were therapeutic without me even realizing it. The mundane goal of wake/hike/eat/sleep every day while surrounded by trees and mountains allows you to shed everything superficial from your life. You're not bathing. You never look at yourself in a mirror. You don't think about your hair. You never compare yourself to anyone else. No one has a nicer car or house than you. No one makes more money than you. Everything is equalized. Everything is as it should be. Everything feels right.
In the morning instead of scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook feed of bad news and thoughtless drivel while sitting on the toilet you lay in your tent listening to the world wake up around you. Rodents scurrying, different kinds of birds talking to each other above.
You get up, put on the same smelly clothing you wore yesterday, shove everything you have into a bag and then you just walk. One foot in front of the other. Through dirt, sand, mud, water, up mountains, down hills, around lakes, across bridges. You look around, you breath, you smell, you relax. There is nothing to be worried about. It's simple. It's natural.
You stop for lunch. It's easy and simple. You've already chosen what you'll eat, so there is no fussing over it. You sit down in the dirt, smelling the earth around you and cram your mouth until you're full. Your can feel your body absorbing the food and making energy out of it.
Everything you did before lunch you do again. You don't need to think about any deviations from this plan because there are no other choices. You move forward.
At the end of the day of hiking there is nothing better than freeing your toes from your shoes, stretching out on your sleeping pad, laying back, and feeling your whole body collapse against the ground. Putting warm food in your stomach and just staring at the sky. You wash the dirt off your feet and legs. It makes you feel fresh and new. Lay down in your tent and just let your mind turn off and go to sleep. Tomorrow you'll get up and do this all over again. You have no worries. No responsibilities. Just a simple dirt path extending before you.