This morning I set out with a couple of buddies on one of their regular adventures and was reminded of a column I wrote a couple years back about free soloist Alex Honnold. Honnold is known as the climber who eschews ropes and other protection — “free soloing,” it’s called in climbing circles.
Take the winter off from backpacking?
Not when you live in part of the country where you can experience a rare coastal forest escape, hike on the country’s most iconic trail, and explore a high country oasis all while enjoying the cold embrace of the season, minus the threat. Sure, it can get cold and there can be snow. But not to the extent you need extreme weather gear to survive. Rather, winter here offers a stark beauty that can be enjoyed in solitude. And if you really don’t like the “cold,” but can tolerate cool, winter backpacking at the coast offers an experience you can’t have any other time of year.
Now’s typically the time we start thinking about goals for the year ahead. We all do it. By and large, it’s a good thing. By and large, because we get locked into a way of thinking that doesn’t always reflect what our true goals are.
For instance, when we think of goals we tend to think in terms of physical goals. New Years goals over the years have come to be associated with our health, specifically with weight loss. So while our stated goal may not be to lose 35 pounds by swimsuit season by hiking, that may well be our underlying motivator. “I’m going to hike twice a week,” or I’m going to hike 20 miles a week,” may not be overtly about weight loss, but that might well be the underlying factor. The problem? Having such a metric-driven goal may diminish the joy you get out of hiking. Rather than looking for 5-mile hike with lots of scenic stops for a given Saturday, you may opt instead for a longer hike where you’ll burn more calories. Eventually, it becomes like going to the gym. And we all know how successful that New Year’s goal generally is.
Editor’s note: Next week we unveil our first half GetBackpacking! plans for 2022. This week, for the yet-to-be-convinced of the joys of backcountry adventure, we look at the “why” — Why we do this?
Some folks, even avid hikers, have a knee-jerk reaction to backpacking. To the perceived discomfort, the perceived inconvenience, the perceived difficulty. Backpacking’s sometimes negative image is, in our opinion, a perception problem.
Just as a retailer’s thoughts turn to Christmas once Halloween has passed, our thoughts turn to the coast once the fall color starts to fade here in the Piedmont. While I love a summer’s day at the beach, the coast — and coastal plain — are at their most alluring in late fall and winter. A week at a vacation beach house is swell over the summer, but a week at the coast in winter leaves memories that aren’t soon forgotten.