Some backpacking novices may want some help when transitioning from car GPS to compass. It’s smart to take every opportunity to learn from an experienced backpacker. This blogpost addresses the second of our 3 ways to learn about backpacking --
- Explorer – go it alone and teach yourself
- Pioneer – find someone who knows more than you, and observe
- Wagon Train – tag along on an organized outing
Pioneer – find someone who knows more than you, and observe
What are some of the backcountry skills you’d like to learn with the help of a trusted guide? One of my goals is to hike in more dangerous regions. I’d like I’d like to learn how to use an ice ax and walk with crampons.
How to start:
Identify what backpacking skills you’d like to learn. Are you new to backpacking and would like to learn the fundamentals (e.g., equipment selection, packing, use)? Maybe you’d like a guide to teach you how to select a proper campsite. Leave No Trace Principles are easy to understand, but maybe you’d like to see Leave No Trace in action.
Find a guide. A trusted friend should be your first option. If none of your friends is an experienced backpacker, you may find one in a local hiking club. Trail authorities (e.g., Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Continental Divide Trail Coalition) might be able to direct you to experienced backpackers who might serve as informal guides.
Consider bartering, a skill for a skill. There is usually something to learn from everyone. Even an inexperienced backpacker can teach the experienced. On my first backpacking trip, a friend taught me how to filter water and I taught him about the history along our trail. During a subsequent backpacking trip, I taught my friend about hiking and sleeping in AT shelters, he taught me about the geology of the trail.
Identify a specific trip. Tell your guide what you’d like to learn. Reach consensus on backpacking objectives. Select a trail. Put the trip on your schedules.
Reflect on your trip. Upon return, consider how the trip went? How well did you achieve your backpacking objectives? What surprised you? Would you ever go on a backpacking trip with this person again? Did you enjoy your trip to the backcountry?
There are now many online resources to assist a backpacker. I guess we could categorize backpacking videos on Youtube as a form of the Pioneer approach.
How have you learned from more experienced backpackers? What have you learned?