Backpacking: a different paradigm

There’s a big difference between backpacking and hiking.

Hiking–dayhiking–is essentially sightseeing that gives you a sweat. Great fun, refreshing and perhaps challenging at times–and you go home at the end of the day and have a nice meal and sleep in your bed.

Backpacking, on the other hand, is hiking and camping all rolled into one and then some. You put everything you are going to live on for the next few days or weeks on your back and start trodding a landscape where there is no one.552

So as you are in the environment you are walking through, you become a part of it. When you roll out your sleeping bag under the sky, that patch of ground and wild brush becomes your temporary home. All you have is the most essential provisions to live in this place. And you begin to realize that this nature you have stepped into is not under your control, and all it will give you is brutal honesty–the honesty that what you see in this wilderness is what you get, and you must make the best of it in the way you know how.

When you’re backpacking, you realize that mother nature, as beautiful as she is, could kill you whenever she well pleased.

So you let the humility of your situation sink in–because as often as not, the animals and sky and trees are going to let you live (though you still might have freezing feet at night), and we have invented portable water purifying systems. Because you are permitted to live and adventure as you have hoped, gratitude and awe and perhaps respect begins to well up a subtle fondness, and then love, for the place you are in. This is when you begin to understand how something can be beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Hiking is a good way to find adventure. Backpacking will change your life.

Photography: In the mountains, there you feel free

“In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.” –T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland

Last fall/winter semester, I went on some awesome backpacking and hiking adventures in Yosemite and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I took a lot of pictures of trees and big rocks and stuff…but seriously, it’s so amazing that trees and big rocks and stuff can be so magical and full of life. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I edited up–you can click on them for bigger sizes. :)