I’ve been thinking about learning to rock climb. Which is weird because as inspiring as I think rock climbers are, I also think they might be lunatics with a death wish. Aren’t they scared? Isn’t rock climbing dangerous? Don’t you need super human physical strength? These questions were on my mind when I recently visited City of Rocks National Reserve and it’s sister park, Castle Rocks State Park. In south central Idaho, these parks are a favorite among rock climbers.
I’ve been a hiker for many years. But as of summer last year, I’d never backpacked on my own, carrying everything on my own back. Hiking is just one aspect of backpacking. Just because you’ve hiked doesn’t mean you know everything you need to know to go backpacking.
So, when I decided to backpack the Colorado Trail, the mack daddy of long distance hikes in Colorado and the number one item on my bucket list, I planned like crazy. My goal was to plan so thoroughly, I would be prepared for anything that happened on the trail.
Here’s the funny thing, though. Knowing a lot about something doesn’t mean you can predict how everything will go. And sometimes planning like crazy is just a way to avoid actually doing something you really want to do. Planning my very first true backpacking trip taught me this lesson, a lesson I’m still struggling to learn. Here are the top five ways that backpacking taught me to ditch my urge to overplan and just hit the trail.
I am an equal opportunity hiker. It’s easy to love a trail that winds through a tranquil forest, along a shimmering creek, with picturesque views of mountains every step of the way. And yet, beauty comes in many forms. Trails through strange, stark, dark places call me, too. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in south central Idaho is just such a place. The preserve includes three lava fields that were formed by volcanic eruptions from the Great Rift of Idaho 15,000 years ago. The aftermath has left a weirdly beautiful landscape with tons of volcanic features to explore.
How did I get so lucky? I love hiking so much. And I’ve landed in Boise, Idaho, which, like Denver, Colorado, is literally just minutes from tons of hiking trails. The trails right around Boise are high desert, exposed, wide open spaces, rolling hills of grassland. Sometimes I long for the peaceful, cool, wild beauty of Colorado forests in the Rocky Mountains, with a surprise around every wooded corner or across every murmuring creek. Stack Rock Trail, leading to a granite tower high above the city of Boise, recently gave me just the lush, shaded forest fix with stunning views I so craved. Plus, there’s the fun of going off the beaten path to get up close to Stack Rock.
And, the 10-mile hike kicked my ass!