About the Author: Sable Weisman may be an accountant by day, but she spends her free time hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, kayaking, and biking. She believes that time spent in the outdoors is an opportunity to witness the world around her through a lens of wonder. You can find her on Instagram @sablesspirit.
There are some questions I’ve learned to dread.
“What do you do for work?” Ugh. Don’t make me say it out loud.
“How about that game last night?” I have no idea. How about it?
“How’d you get into backpacking?”
Okay, fine, on the surface, this seems like a question that I’d love to answer. I mean, I love backpacking. I love teaching people to backpack. I love talking about my trips, my plans; I love learning about how other people approach backpacking. I love to hear others’ trip reports and plans and goals. I love the gear, the planning, the trips, the way I feel – empowered, capable, free – when I’m out there, doing it.
But people have expectations around this question. They’re waiting for a narrative, expecting to hear about how I used backpacking to find myself or get over a breakup or a loss or some kind of trauma.
So they’re disappointed to hear me say:
Backpacking seemed really fun.
I wanted to do it.
So I did.
For me, there is no great narrative, no inspirational story of self-discovery or healing. Backpacking can totally be great for all of those things. But it can also be a purely joyful, fun, almost playful experience, and that’s what it is to me. We sink so much time and energy into self-improvement, self-actualization, healing some things and hiding from others, that it’s the most natural form of pleasure to do something just because you want to. No expectations. No agenda. Just: fun. Joy.
And, yes, sometimes, backpacking reminds me of my own strength – or, sometimes, it highlights the areas still in need of some personal growth. It’s a great way to connect with other women, to create a community. But that’s not what draws me to this hobby. For me, it really is just simple, joyful exploration.
Whether or not you returned from your latest trip with a profound realization or having healed a broken heart, or whether you’ve embarked on your first backpacking trip or are still flirting with the idea, I’m here to affirm to you that backpacking is for everyone and for any and every reason. It’s the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure story: you are unequivocally in the driver’s seat. Go for fun or go for self-reflection, or set out with one intention and return having achieved a different goal altogether. It’s your trip, your hobby, your story.
See you out there.