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getting motivated...
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Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 06:25:51 MDT Print View

i was averaging a backpacking trip one weekend a month in 2005 and 2006, both solo and with a small group. the group was slowly reduced to a core of four.

i was backpacking so much i ordered a McHale pack and received it in April 2007. i immediately went out for a long weekend with it and was very pleased with the pack. but then the strangest thing happened...

i only got out four times in 2007. the core group had dissolved since two of the four moved away and the third became involved with a girlfriend. it just wasn't the same i guess without the gang.

in August 2007 i planned a solo trip - nothing huge, just an overnight out and back - a total of 28 miles. it was very dry and out on the ridges, where the bulk of the trail was, there was no water at the springs. within a 5 minute period i had run-ins with two rattlers. i had to change my plans and head down the ridge to a stream for water - that trip was my last, i haven't been out since.

not sure if it was the rattlers, nearly running out of water, or missing my friends, but after i came home, i put the pack in the closet and haven't looked at it since.

i'm not sure how to get motivated now for a trip - i want to get out and enjoy a trip, but i can't get to the point where i'm heading out the door with my gear loaded.

any suggestions?


Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
motivation on 04/21/2009 07:39:49 MDT Print View

Backpacking is obviously quite fun, and that's a big part of why I do it - enjoyment. But when it gets super hot and humid, or cold and wet, or windy and rainy, or whatever, one can begin to ask themselves why they do it (see the WHY? thread in Philosophy & Technique).

It's usually more fun to go backpacking when it's perfect out, and when everything goes right. When you loose tent stakes, gear malfunctions, your lighter runs out of fuel, or anything else goes wrong, it could be easy to let it ruin the trip. On the other hand, it can also be a great opportunity to learn or practice new skills, and still have fun. You'd be surprised how what appears to be a crappy situation can actually end up being a great memory.

It's easy not to think of snakes, dry creeks, faulty gear, lost tent stakes, cuts, blisters, etc when we idealize in our head how a trip will be. So one question you should ask yourself is do you love backpacking and what comes with it, or do you live the idea of backpacking... they are two different things. If you really love backpacking, then pick a perfect weekend and head out. If your not sure, do the same thing. A nice weekend with good conditions will brighten your spirit and remind you why you enjoyed it in the first place.

In the past, I've normally been a fair weather camper. Hey, I do this for recreation, right? If I was headed out for a weekend trip and it was forecasted to be rain all weekend, I just did something else. I've changed my mentality on this recently, and will now head out unless conditions would actually be dangerous. Well see how this goes for me as time goes on, but I also don't need help getting motivated to do it. I love it. Which is why I say, pick a perfect weekend, and go have fun.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"getting motivated..." on 04/21/2009 07:43:25 MDT Print View

Maybe you can set your thoughts back on the positive things you remember about being outdoors, rather than on the negative circumstantial issues and occurrences of the past. The outdoors are there for you now and nothing really is keeping you from getting out there and enjoying it, I assume, except yourself. Excuses keep us from doing the things we want most of the time, I know they do in my life, of course greater responsibilities take precedence for many of us. Seriously, taking just a dayhike might be the motivation you need, then venture out for an overnight by yourself. I bet some people will chime in about that heavy McHale pack of yours though, this is a lightweight backpacking forum at the end of the day.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: "getting motivated..." on 04/21/2009 08:05:08 MDT Print View

I think you are getting great advice from both these gentlemen. Picking weekends with great weather, or sometimes even a day hike can really get your blood flowing. My particular favorite is if I am not abkle to take an overnighter, simply head out dead early in the morning (ie. 4am) and hike unitl early afternoon...set up camp and have a nap for a couple of hours and then back home by the evening...kinda gives you the feeling that you were actually "out there".
You could also think of the health benefits of hiking aswell. It's not like we are doing something bad here. Hiking is great exercise and being out in the woods is good for the mind and body. It's healthy, so you SHOULD do it! Now get out there!

Totally off topic, but hopefully it brightens everyones day. As I was reading this post trying to think of something insightful to say, this big freakin' spider comes and lands on my laptop screen. I had a total hissy fit and banged my knee real good under my desk...even took a picture after I had calmed down as I figured people would think I was crazy. My heart is still pounding like mad. :)


Edited by Steve_Evans on 04/21/2009 08:05:40 MDT.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 08:28:30 MDT Print View

Try some dayhiking, like someone already said, and if you like beer...have a cooler full waiting on you at the car camping spot.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 08:45:12 MDT Print View

If loneliness is a problem, I have found that it really helps to keep a journal. I feel more like I'm sharing the adventure with others because when I get home I'm going to post it in my blog. Sometimes I will imagine what I'm going to write as I am hiking and so it kind of feels like I'm not alone.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Re: getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 08:46:44 MDT Print View

Can't help you. Spiders,snakes, running out of water, getting lost etc. Is what makes for the most memorable trips. I'll never forget the time I didn't make it to the car until midnight. Or the time I had to flag down a car at a road crossing because my buddy Craig was almost dead from heat exhaustion/dehydration.

IMO if you are still here to tell the story then it was a good trip.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 09:01:52 MDT Print View

(Stealing shamelessly from a footwear company) Just Do It!

Motivation is a odd thing.

I have dearly loved bicycling for decades. But for the longest time I was having the hardest time getting started each spring. There was always a reason to not ride. But without fail my first ride of the season left me saying This is great! Why didn't I do this much sooner? I've never developed an understanding of that but I have come to KNOW that dynamic is there and the knowledge is enough to get me to start looking for that first ride before conditions allow it. That gets me out on the first day that is even close to reasonable and the rest of the season follows easily from there.

Regarding backpacking, some things that are working for me:

* Develop a new group. I've had two trips in the past year with folks I didn't know or did not know well beforehand (mainly MN BPLers). A third trip will happen soon.
* Another good way to meet like minded people is to get involved with backcountry service organizations (trail maintenance, SAR, groups introducing kids to the wild ...)
* Get to know yourself. What is it that draws you to backcountry. What are your fears/concerns. Learn how the first can seed motivation. Look for ways to mitigate (or maybe face down)the second.

Edited by jcolten on 04/21/2009 09:04:13 MDT.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
motiv8 on 04/21/2009 09:06:39 MDT Print View

after a bad trip in July 2006 and the miserable Aug 2007 trip, i no longer backpack in those months in my area (Mid-Atlantic). for me, backpacking is a way to escape my everyday and enjoy the outdoors. a day hike just isn't the same - it doesn't let me decompress since i find myself looking at my watch to make sure i can get back to the car and beat the traffic... i typically look at my watch when backpacking to know when to take a break.

2008 was a wash mainly because we had our second kid in Oct 2007 - it's real hard to not feel guilty leaving the kids with my wife - she is not into backpacking at all - and maybe that's the main reason for lacking motivation - a sense of guilt. i have been out with my 7 year old a few times, but he can only do about 2 miles before he's over it. for him, the fun starts once camp is setup.

as for the "heavy" McHale, it's really not that heavy, i went for something that was a better fit for my large frame and was durable - i'll live with a few ounces if it equates to durability. the pack weighs a massive 4 pounds, but it is a very usable design and easily will fit a bear canister.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
McHale Pack on 04/21/2009 09:11:22 MDT Print View

Sorry to hear about that.
I think the only reasonable thing to do is to sell your McHale pack to me.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: motiv8 on 04/21/2009 09:17:53 MDT Print View

Leave the watch at home, don't worry about traffic, and take breaks when you are tired. Seriously, just relax - forget the watch.

If you enjoyed going out with the kid for a 2 mile hike, keep it up. Nobody says you have to clobber 20 miles in a day. I enjoy wilderness camping as much as hiking. For me, camp is every bit as fun, so there's no shame in short hikes. The key is to get out there. The wilderness experience is what you make of it - enjoy it your way.

If you like the pack, who cares - enjoy it.

But really, leave the watch. If it's a day hike, go home when it starts getting dark, not when you think you can beat traffic.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: McHale Pack on 04/21/2009 10:26:28 MDT Print View

i absolutely love the McHale pack - i bought it as part of a semi-custom sale he had and it was totally worth the money - very solid construction. much better fit than the Osprey i was using.

i emailed my wife and let her know i was looking to go on a trip and she suggested instead of trying to cram it in on a weekend, to just do a Sunday/Monday trip with our son.

i'm starting to feel the motivation and my wife has helped to remove some guilt. now i just need to pick a weekend and destination.

thanks, you all have been a huge help. last year went by so quick it's hard to believe i didn't get out once and this year is zipping past at much the same rate. it will be fall before i know it.

i used to be a very serious bicycle rider, but that was 35 pounds and 2 kids ago ;) i still have a road bike, but never seem to have the time to get out and ride. more guilt i guess.

Edited by asciibaron on 04/21/2009 10:28:57 MDT.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
getting motivated... on 04/21/2009 10:32:28 MDT Print View

I suspect that you are in the midst of a temporary burn-out and time will cure the problem. I have been backpacking and climbing for quite a while and have had a few breaks from the activities, some of several years. A lot of the problem was conflicts among career, family and other interests. I eventually did get back to the trails and peaks. Sometimes you just can't do it all.

My recommendation? Just don't worry about it. If you really do enjoy getting out, you will eventually get back to it. While the time passes, gear technology will
advance; think of all the lovely new stuff you will have to buy!

In the meanwhile, just enjoy your life, your family and good food: Just stay in shape and when the time arrives, hit the trail a-runnin!

Edited by Rincon on 04/21/2009 10:34:27 MDT.

Kent C.
(kent) - M

Locale: High Sierra
getting motivated on 04/21/2009 22:34:44 MDT Print View

The outdoors will be there, ready for you, when you're ready.

If you truly can't resist looking at your watch, make yourself leave it in the car! :-)

Traffic? Who doesn't like ice cream?! Stay out a tad longer, get some ice cream with your son, then hit the road AFTER the traffic. Attend to gear the day after you return - no pressure!

Remind yourself of whatever turns you on about being out: the woods, elevation, view, time alone, time with your son...let that accompany you out the door & on your way!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: getting motivated... on 04/22/2009 00:20:16 MDT Print View

Perhaps you can slowly make the 'outdoors' a normal part of life.

I don't hike or backpack to escape anything. I just do it. And I hike almost every weekend, 52 weeks a year. Of course it helps to live in a great climate.

My wife does not and will not 'backpack,' but she sure enjoys day hikes. We do that a lot. We have a tent trailer and over the past 6 years have averaged over 100 nights a year camping in it. And we do day hikes on very one of these trips. Also, I now do a lot of solo backpacking. Backpacking had become sort of hit and miss, as you are experiencing. As my wife and I increased our tent trailer camping, my motivation for backpacking increased too. Being outdoors just becomes the norm in life.

Before kids, I backpacked a lot. Did a couple 6 month adventures before I got married. When the kids came along, we did a lot of family camping. Every summer vacation was a camping trip. I started taking the kids on short backpacking trips when they hit about 5 years old. And when the kids were growing up I did a lot of solo backpacking too.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: getting motivated... on 05/01/2009 09:52:53 MDT Print View


I've gone through this as well. I wasn't on the trail much the year before last because of moving (we bought 130 year old house and had to move twice because of a six month close), pregnancy/miscarriage, and editing the book.

Then last year the renos on the house got in the way as did the book signings and such. So both years only resulted in a handful of trips whereas in the past we've had up to 80 bag nights in a year because of field testing recipes, gear testing and such.

It really is the day hikes that have been instumental in my getting the "backpacking bug" back. I haven't been this excited about the trail in awhile.

The friends we originally went with don't go hiking anymore - one has become involved with an "urban princess" and won't go anywhere without her which means any type of camping with him is out of the question. So I made some new connections and this year we are going to hike with some different people than we have in the past. Should be interesting.

I also hauled out all my gear which hasn't been used since November and made sure everything was in working order. For some reason that really gets me in the mood to go.

Sometimes life gets in the way but if you get back out there you'll be craving the trips in no time.