Some say backpacking is magical, and I’m one of those people. Backpacking for my husband has been his life’s passion, but I only expressed an interest five years ago when I was fifty-six. To this day, my interest in slipping a pack on my back and hitting the trail has not waned. Trees flanking the trails, butterflies floating from bloom to bloom, dragonflies buzzing above the shimmering water, the breeze bringing relief like a refreshing swim in the lake, and the morning light stretching over the horizon remind us that another glorious day has arrived – they’re all magic.
It is humble to carry essentials on my back. I’m not like Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in three months. I don’t own that level of bandwidth to wear the boots of a thru-hiker, whether on the PCT or on the Appalachian Trail. Nor do I have the desire to attempt a 60-mile trip like my husband has completed on several occasions. I’m a middle-aged woman who possesses a yearning to challenge myself in body, mind, and soul – to step out of my comfort zone and seek adventures to be experienced, even though I need to shed a few pounds.
I get tired at times my legs begin to tremble. I have literally met exhaustion face to face on a few of our hikes. And when I get hot, my face turns pomegranate red, a little embarrassing when greeting other hikers. Sweat trickles and forms in patches on my body that, yes, I’ll refrain from naming. And unfortunately, no shower stands behind the tent waiting to be utilized. And yet, I am pulled into the magic…
I’ve known several friends who didn’t get the chance to celebrate their fiftieth birthday. We all know tomorrow is not guaranteed. I always try to live my life to its fullest, but now even more so as I grow older. Maybe because I’m inching my way closer to the top of the ladder! So, I choose to explore this type of adventure that never appealed to me when I was younger. To live my life in the richest way possible.
I’m not a solo backpacker, but I admire those who are, especially women portraying strength, perseverance, and determination by setting out on their own. I find comfort in the security of going with my husband, knowing he holds the experience and knowledge of the trail. I do help pitch the tent and set up and clean up camp, so I don’t just sit around sipping wine while he does all the work. We make a good team. He’s also the one who calms me in the middle of the night when the snap of a twig causes my eyes to fly open. What was that? A bear? A human? The imagination can truly run wild! But I acknowledge this trait and try to allow his calm composure to flow into me.
As to my body, there are moments when my knees twinge or my hips groan from sleeping on nothing but a pad separating me from the ground! And the sleeping bag manages to twist me up at times, too. All magic. Every lens to the surrounding beauty, every chirp or snap, even each little ache or unexpected precipitation literally raining on our parade falls into the package of a life-changing alchemy. The welcome peace from the hustle and bustle of daily routines. The whispers of wind through the trees attempting to touch the vast sky. The breeze ruffling my bangs looking a bit wonky after taking off my hat. Getting outdoors, inhaling the fresh air, time to reflect. As I said before…magic for the mind, body, and soul.
So, given our bodies remain capable, my husband and I will continue on the backpacking trail one boot in front of the other, relishing the magic of it all.
Lauren Scott (c) ❤️