This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org. Last year, I astonished friends and family by signing up for a three-day backpacking expedition on Michigan’s North Country Trail. As a non-camper (and never-backpacker), my daily “hikes” were rarely more than walking my dogs around a local park.
COVID-19 was the game-changer. I enjoy traveling and when the pandemic forced me away from the airport, I began eyeing the world outside my back door with a different attitude. Why not travel by foot? I needed the exercise, I wanted a challenge, and I loved the idea of self-sufficient adventure. Figuring out how to start backpacking would be a step toward reclaiming normalcy in a world closed by COVID.Preparation and anxiety Six months before my trip, I joined Facebook
groups related to hiking and backpacking. I discovered a guided, women-only trip in my home state that included teaching campers basic outdoor skills: cooking in the wild, setting up a tent, and using a trowel to “leave no trace” of natural body functions. There is a technique to pooping in the woods, and I learned that some options are better than others. Fitness prep began at the YMCA with a Silver Sneakers “Strength and Flexibility” class that met before work on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 6 a.m. My biggest concern was getting myself out in the wild and needing assistance to get back home, so I channeled “terror” as gym motivation. Adding a couple of TRX Suspension classes to my schedule as I got stronger, I finally hired a personal trainer to build more muscle. Trainer Patty was a Boss. She introduced me and my …