When most people think about finding themselves, they imagine sitting in a therapist’s office, exploring their childhood and discussing their feelings. But there are other ways to find yourself, and one of the best is through backpacking. Here’s how it can help:
It encourages you to be present.
Backpacking requires your full attention. You must be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your footing, so you don’t trip and fall. This forces you to live in the present moment, which can be a great way to find yourself.
It helps you appreciate nature.
When you’re out in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to appreciate the beauty around you. Seeing firsthand how beautiful and vast the world is can help put your problems into perspective and give you a greater appreciation for life.
It allows you to disconnect from technology.
In today’s world, it’s easy to get wrapped up in technology and forget about the world around you. But when you’re backpacking, there’s no cell service or Wi-Fi, which gives you the perfect opportunity to disconnect from your phone and social media and focus on the present moment.
It gives you time to think.
You have a lot of time to think when you’re out on the trail. This can be an excellent opportunity to reflect on your life and figure out what you want most out of it. You can also use this time to brainstorm ideas and devise solutions to problems you’ve been having.
It helps you meet new people.
Backpacking is a great way to meet new people. When you’re out on the trail, you’ll meet other hikers looking for the same thing: an escape from the everyday grind. You can bond over your shared love of nature and adventure, and you may even make some lifelong friends.
It allows you to reset.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out in our fast-paced world. But when you’re backpacking, you can forget your worries and focus on enjoying yourself. This can help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated like you’ve hit the reset button on your life.
It teaches you about yourself.
Backpacking can teach you a lot about yourself. You’ll learn how to push yourself physically and mentally when you’re out on the trail. You’ll also find out what you’re capable of and your limits. And as you overcome obstacles and reach your goals, you’ll gain confidence and learn more about who you are.
It helps you appreciate the little things in life.
When you’re backpacking, you must carry everything you need on your back, which means you can only bring the essentials. This forces you to think about what’s important to you and helps you appreciate the little things in life.
It gives you a sense of accomplishment.
When you finish a backpacking trip, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ll be proud of yourself for pushing your limits and reaching your goals. And you’ll have memories and stories to last a lifetime.
Backpacking can be a fantastic way to find yourself. It encourages you to be present, appreciate nature, disconnect from technology, and think about what you want most out of life. It also allows you to meet new people, reset, and learn about yourself. If you’re looking for a way to explore who you are, backpacking may be perfect.
When it comes to packing for a backpacking trip, the options can seem endless. But a few pieces of gear are essential for any trip, regardless of when or where you’re going. Here is a list of the essentials, along with some tips on choosing the right gear for your needs.
You’ll need a backpack to carry all your gear. But there are a few things to consider when choosing a pack. First, think about the size. You want something big enough to hold everything you need but not so big that it’s cumbersome to carry. Second, consider the features. Look for a pack with plenty of pockets and compartments for organizing your gear and straps and loops for attaching gear to the outside of the pack. And finally, make sure the pack is comfortable to wear – look for one with adjustable straps and a padded back panel.
2. Sleeping bag:
A good sleeping bag is another essential piece of gear. When choosing a sleeping bag, you’ll need to consider the temperature range you’ll be camping in. Sleeping bags are typically rated for specific temperature ranges, so choose one that’s appropriate for the conditions you’ll be facing. You’ll also want to think about the weight and size of the sleeping bag. If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight bag that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a warmer bag that takes up more space.
A tent is another essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. When choosing a tent, you’ll need to consider the size (how many people will be sleeping in it?) and the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight tent that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger tent that provides more space and comfort.
4. Sleeping pad:
A sleeping pad is an essential piece of gear for two reasons. First, it provides insulation between you and the ground, which helps to keep you warm at night. Second, it adds padding and comfort, which can make all the difference after a long day on the trail. When choosing a sleeping pad, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight pad that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger pad that provides more comfort.
If you’re planning on cooking your meals on the trail, you’ll need a stove. When choosing a stove, you’ll need to consider the fuel it uses (propane, butane, white gas, etc.), as well as the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight stove that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a more powerful stove with more features.
6. Water filter:
A water filter is an essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. It allows you to safely drink water from streams, lakes, and other natural sources. When choosing a water filter, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight filter that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a bigger filter that’s more powerful and has more features.
7. First-aid kit:
A first-aid kit is an essential piece of gear for any backpacking trip. It allows you to treat minor injuries and ailments on the trail. When choosing a first-aid kit, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose a lightweight kit that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for a more extensive kit with more items.
8. Navigation tools:
Navigation tools (such as a map and compass) are essential for any backpacking trip. They allow you to find your way in the wilderness and ensure you don’t get lost. When choosing navigation tools, you’ll need to consider the size, weight, and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight tools that pack down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for bigger tools that have more features.
The type of clothing you bring on your backpacking trip will depend on the climate and the time of year. In general, you should bring comfortable, durable, and easy to layer clothing. When choosing clothing for your trip, you’ll need to consider the weight, packed size, and climate. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight clothing that packs down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for more comfortable and durable clothing.
10. Miscellaneous items:
There are a few other miscellaneous items you might want to bring on your backpacking trip. These include sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a headlamp. When choosing various items for your journey, you’ll need to consider the weight and packed size. Again, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, you might want to choose lightweight items that pack down small. But if weight isn’t as much of a concern, you can opt for more comfortable items with more features.
As you can see, when choosing gear for a backpacking trip, there are many factors to consider. But by choosing the right equipment, you’ll make your trip more enjoyable and safer. So don’t be afraid to choose the right gear – it will be worth it in the end. And if you have any questions or need help choosing gear, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help!
Anyone who has followed my personal journey knows that the non-profit Frontline Freedom was started out of need. I needed to escape. I needed to escape my own thoughts, struggles, emotions. I needed to escape and stay healthy.
I could have chosen to hit the bottle. That wasn’t for me. In fact, the best advice I ever received was more of a reminder. Alcohol was for celebrations. Not for sadness. Never drink when you’re sad, lonely, or depressed. Only drink to celebrate. Only drink to toast others for their accomplishments.
Enter the inner outdoorsman.
When I was a kid, I had an obsession with camping gear. I loved tents, cooking sets, and building fires from nothing. As I got older, my obsessions stayed with me. I bought all of the backpacking gear I could afford. Only, I didn’t backpack. I put all of my gear in a motorcycle and would take weekend trips, camping wherever I could find somewhere open for the night.
As life hit and I felt alone, I ran into Josh. We started taking backpacking trips and developed what would become Frontline Freedom. Things were going great. I was happy, healthy, and helping others in the process.
Then life hit me again. As it tends to do so unexpectedly.
I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. I could hear my dad screaming in the background. My heart sank. My aunt said, “David, your brother is dead. He killed himself. He’s gone.”
It was December 1. Just a few days after thanksgiving. I never got to say goodbye. In the ensuing chaos that consumed my family, I did what I always do. I hid my emotions and tried to stay strong for everyone else. I offered encouragement and tried to help people understand that they would never fully understand. We cried, we laughed at old stories, and we wondered why.
Fast forward to four months later.
My mom called me. She was crying on the other end of the phone. “It’s bad, Dave. I need you.” Once again, the surge of adrenaline through my veins made me feel numb as I prepared for her following words. “Michael is dead.”
Michael was my step-brother. We came of age together and became adults at the same time. He was a good man who always provided for his family. Years prior, he became a victim of prescription pills, which turned to heroin use. He fought his demons in and out of rehab. Addiction is an odd thing. He never wanted to be addicted, but the disease overcame him. He died of an overdose before leaving for work.
Once again, the family was in a state of mourning.
My younger brother, Ryan, was struggling with all of it. I was too. Yet, I again hid my emotions and tried to be the comforter to everyone else.
Luckily, Frontline Freedom had a trip planned between Michael’s death and his funeral. I told my brother, Ryan, that he needed to be on that trip with me. As we tend to do so, we went to Grayson Highlands and backpacked.
I remember looking over a ridge and wondering how to make sense of everything. Here was all the beauty of nature, and I couldn’t help but think that my two brothers would never see sunset again. They would never feel the rush of cool air on their faces again. I looked at Ryan as he watched the sunset over the ridge, and I could see the same look in him.
While I may have been in a sad place, the woods did something for me. It did the same thing it had done when I was a kid and again as an adult just four years prior. They gave me perspective. They gave me a chance to talk to the people on the trip. They allowed me to feel.
Sometimes, we lose feeling. Sometimes, that numbness we feel when we brace for bad news never goes away. Backpacking amid all that turmoil gave me back what I had lost. It gave me feelings, emotions, and, most importantly, safety.
I’ll admit it. I tend not to be a vulnerable man. I fall victim to some sort of never-showing ‘weakness’ mentality. That’s wrong. Weakness is not allowing yourself to heal. Weakness is not showing others that you’re a human.
Backpacking gave me the ability to share. Sharing brings vulnerability yet, courage. Strength comes from sharing. Power comes from admitting that sometimes the people who are always there for other people do, in fact, need people for themselves as well.
That trip was the perfect trip at the ideal time.
I am stronger for going and continue to be stronger today from the lessons I learned while on a trail.
**The above photos is of me and my brother, Ryan, on the Grayson Highlands trip**
Today marked the beginning of our next longer trip. As it has been a tradition, we always depart from home in the rain. Luckily, we got a reprieve this year and had decent weather after our first stop.
It was good to catch up again, discuss life and its never ending changes. Not a whole lot to talk about this first day.. Just getting started..
We are less than two weeks out from our next adventure. It is worth mentioning, as few people talk about it, the weather. Motorcycling brings storms; rain, snow, lightning, wind, etc. Being prepared for them is being ahead of the game.
It is more than just preparing for a little bit of water, falling from the sky. It is about being prepared to handle the worst case scenario. Not only will you have to battle the elements if you are caught in them, you will have to battle yourself. Be mindful of fatigue and ego. Know when it is time to pull over and seek shelter. It isn’t worth getting tired, complacent, and then making a mistake on two wheels.
Be prepared to weather the weather. Sometimes that means staying put for a bit. Sometimes that means strapping on a rain suit and powering through. Don’t let the ego make the decision.
Leaving straight from work and driving north and west into what looked like a red blob of fury on the RADAR did not disappoint. The lightning coming down all around us set the stage for a dramatic entry into Chicago.
From standing water on the interstate to grooved pavement, the ride will not be forgotten. A lot of people take trips throughout their lives. The ones they remember are when things go wrong, or not how it was imagined. I may never remember little details but I assure you, I will always remember the time I rode a motorcycle to Chicago in the rain…
I bought a new bike to kick off this riding season. I picked up a 2016 Road Glide Ultra. I’ve had it for about one month now. 1,700 miles later I’m still enjoying my purchase. I can’t wait to get out and rack up some miles on this thing.
Some things are so large the human brain cannot fathom their existence. The Grand Canyon is no exception. It is so massive, it looks fake. Almost as if you are looking at a painting against the earth. Some sort of optical illusion… No wonder when Clark Griswold arrived he immediately left again.
Very few things can make you feel so small yet so at peace.
We met a guy today from Germany, again mesmerized by our bikes. He is also a BMW rider in Europe. We chatted with him for a bit and he took our picture for his records.
Sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled. We looked at the map and decided to take the ‘long way’ out to our hotel. The views we saw by going over an hour out of our way were absolutely amazing. Miles and miles of Canyon viewing without a single tourist in sight. After riding that way I felt cheated for having paid money at the Grand Canyon National Park. I felt bad for all of the other travelers who didn’t know what they were missing. It is truly amazing to be awestruck by God’s creation.
Starting off the morning in Reno, we saw that one of the bikes parked next to ours had been tampered with. The ignition on the Victory machine had been stripped out as if somebody had attempted to ‘hot-wire’ it. We looked over our bikes and were relieved to not see any damage done to them. We set off across the desert for Las Vegas.
I feel incredibly sad for the people who fly into Las Vegas. The absolute most gorgeous riding in that area is through Death Valley. Despite such a menacing name, the temperatures weren’t all that bad. It hovered right around 80 degrees. Lake Walker and the surrounding desert were mesmerizing. Absolute motorcycle bliss.
Along the way, I struck up a conversation with a man at a gas station. He was riding a 2015 Road Glide. His name was Rick but in the motorcycle club he was in he went by ‘Ricochet’. Nice guy, from Nashville, belongs to a christian motorcycle club. They do a lot of fundraising for different charities and help others who are struggling with addiction and help them find God. We talked to Ricochet for about 45 minutes at the gas station. He asked if he could tag along with us for the day seeing as how we were all on our way to Vegas. Just like that, we became three.
As we rolled into Vegas, the scenery stopped, the heat set in and the expenses increased. I’ll never understand why people take their children to Las Vegas as part of a family vacation…. Especially with knowing what prostitution is (Human Trafficking) and that Las Vegas is the number one area for young boys and girls to be trafficked into the sex trade………
The best part about traveling to Reno was seeing Mount Shasta and riding through Lassen National Forest on the way. The forest was a great ride. Twisty roads, little traffic, friendly people.
We met a couple who were traveling in a ‘Slingshot’ (three wheeled vehicle). They were giving us tips and pointers about where to ride in the area. We found a small diner in the middle of the desert called J.J.’s. It looked like an old ghost town. Wooden walkways leading up to the place, dirt parking lot, nothing but desert all around it.
Today’s adventure was all on hot. 103.5 degrees was what my max temp said today. We left from Vancouver and the relentless summer heat wore us into oblivion over the course of the day. We traveled west to the Pacific Coast Highway and drove south from there. We stopped in little towns, ate some food and took some pictures of our bikes at the Pacific Ocean. It’s sad, knowing that now we will be making the return trip home.
On top of seeing some amazing views on the P.C.H. we saw a helicopter dumping water on a small wildfire. I’ve never seen that in real life before. It was amazing to watch. I hope they get that thing under control soon.
I feel like all of the miles have sort of helped me work out some things in my brain area. Probably in my heart too. I’m excited for another week on the road.
A very good friend of mine used to tell me over and over; “Life doesn’t turn out how you thought it would, but it turns out exactly how it is supposed to.” I found myself repeating her words over the past day or so to Dave and to myself. Bringing a sort of comfort to me. Sometimes when you’re alone in a motorcycle helmet you reflect and replay. Replay’s tend to be decisions that while looking back, you might have done things differently. It’s a scary slope, a replay can quickly turn into a regret. For those of you that truly know me, you would be hard pressed to find another person with the always positive outlook on life. I don’t regret anything in my life, admittedly I may have done a few things different, mainly how I reacted to certain stimuli imposed upon me by forces I cannot control. I am not where I envisioned myself in life but I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am enjoying that moment.
Two Wheeled Therapy
Rubber side down.
Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.
― Donald L. Hicks
Left from the Modern Hotel in Boise this morning and jumped on HWY 2o towards Bend, Oregon. They call it the High Desert. Once we left civilization we had 130 miles to the nearest town. No gas stations, no shops, just desert. It was a great view. The road cuts through some of the rolling hills of the area.
We came to a construction zone and the flagger talked to us for about 10 minutes while traffic was all stopped. She recommended a small restaurant in Burns, Oregon. (The only town in the middle of the 260 mile stretch of road) We took her advice and found the establishment in town. From the outside it looked dirty, small, not pleasant. We went inside and it looked like it was a set from the movie ‘Road House’, except it was a Wednesday afternoon and the only people inside were three older men at the bar.
The waitress recommended the Steak Sandwich….. Oh. Em. Gee. It was marinated in whiskey and cooked to order. The most delicious thing I’ve eaten in months… by far. We talked with the wait staff for about an hour while we ate. Discussing everything from Unions to geographic limitations of living in a desert. The town was located approximately 130 miles in any direction from the next town.
The ride out of town, after we were full, was long, straight, and desolate. No traffic. Just us.
As the title suggests, we are social creatures. Today we made a lot of new friends. When departing from Cody, WY a man approached us as we were loading our bikes back up. He was wearing BMW Motorrad suspenders and was roughly 60 years old. As he walked up to us, we knew he was interested in our bikes. His first words to us were in a heavy German accent; “Forgive me, I don’t speak English.” He was here in the states from Germany on vacation with his family. Joergen, told us about his BMW bikes and how much he loved rifles. His big conversation was about how he has been on the Nurburgring on a BMW ‘K’ bike.
Dave knew just enough German that we could have a conversation with him. Fascinating man. Once again, bonded by two wheels… Bliss.
We stopped in for breakfast at the ‘Irma’, which is a bar / hotel that ‘Buffalo Bill’ owned. There was a film crew filming a documentary about the Irma today. We sat next to them during breakfast while they continued to film….We are totally going to be in the background of every shot.
After breakfast we started west and hit Yellowstone. That is a breathtaking place. No wonder it is so popular. While we were there we met a very nice couple, Bob and Wendy. Bob was a Police Chaplin in the Chatham area of Canada and we knew some of the same people. He told me a story about one of the officers that had been struck and killed on the interstate on a traffic stop. He was the second person on the scene. His voice trembled, his eyes welled up as he remembered the details from so many years ago. Sometimes we take for granted how much people will let us into their lives, even for a brief moment. I enjoyed the conversation with them, I asked to take their picture to remember them by. (Their photo is the background of this post)
After Yellowstone, we rocketed across the high plains at what could be described best as ‘Spirited Riding’. We ended up in Boise, Idaho for the night. What a cool town. It is definitely a hipster town. Who knew? Really friendly people, unlike most hipster towns where everyone is better than you and they know it. We made friends with a guy at the hotel bar and talked in depth with him about bourbon and wines. Learned some neat things.
What an amazing day…. Meeting so many new people and just enjoying everything.
Seeing as how my mom is probably the only person who actually reads my nonsense, I feel that this is a good time for me to say; “Hi mom, love you.”
Today was an amazing day. I’m pretty sure I had a smile the entire ride today. We started off early and rode to Mt. Rushmore, conveniently located 4 minutes from our hotel. BOOM. Amazing views, I think we were more interested in the terrain outside of Mount Rushmore than the actual monument itself… It was pretty neat to see, though.
We rode from there to ‘Devil’s Tower’. That was a fun road in. Twisty, winding roads and an amazing backdrop to set it all in. Wyoming made us feel like we were in the real ‘west’. At the tower we met a couple from Ohio (Pickerington) and had a nice conversation with them. We chatted for about 30 minutes with them about everything humans can possibly think of to talk about in 30 minutes. Very nice people.
We departed and hit I-90 (my favorite interstate so far) and made up some serious time and dropped down into Big Horn National Forest…… WOW. Simply amazing. As we made our way into the town just outside of the forest we stopped for fuel. We made friends with an older gentleman, a local. We talked with him about everything from hunting to bikes to the coal mines. The best part of that conversation was him telling us about an airplane that had crashed during WWII. The plane and its crew had just seemed to vanish. The wreckage was found two years later and now the area is known as ‘Bomber Mountain’ in honor of the victims.
As we rode through Big Horn, the views just kept getting better and better. Skies clear, mind clearing…. Awesome day.
If there is one thing I have mastered, it is taking a selfie on a motorcycle at ‘operating speed’. And just what that is…well…..(trail off slightly)
Today we departed from Omaha and set out west. The rest of Nebraska could be summed up as ‘Fun’. Lenient speed regulations, the overall lack of traffic, and the will to get to the next destination made for an exhilarating ride.
As we crossed into South Dakota, we stopped at a major intersection for five minutes. There was nothing near us. No other traffic, no people. Just us. How we envisioned the west to be. It was like stepping back into time. Every town we stopped in felt like it was a prop from the movie; “There Will Be Blood”. The local gas station was a meeting point for farmers on a Sunday afternoon. Cowboy hats, coffee, and nobody knew a stranger. It felt nice.
As we entered the Badlands area we were persuaded by another group of motorcyclist to travel down the path less traveled. Which means, the K1600GT was treated just like the R1200GSA was treated. The difference, the GSA was built for offered use. The GT was not. 25 miles of dirt ‘roads’ and I had my fair share of being stressed out of my mind. User advice, the K1600GT does not handle well in non-pavement conditions. Dave, on his GSA was loving it.
Hit an awesome thunderstorm as we entered the Black Hills. The lightning coming down was mesmerizing. We got wet and blown around by some incredible cross-winds. We survived and ended up in Keystone, SD for the night. Long day of riding. Just shy of 550 miles, 25 off-road and grueling……Lets not do that part again.
Two Wheeled Therapy.
Rubber side down.
Avoiding being unhappy does not lead to happiness. – Hector
January 17, middle of Ohio, Interstate 71, 11:37 P.M.
Gas light comes on. I’ve been monitoring my fuel consumption trying to hurry home. There is an ice storm blowing in from the northeast and I’m trying to beat it before the roads get slick. The freezing rain is pelting my helmet, I can feel the temperature dropping as I ride into the dark.
I pulled off into a gas station at an exit that was situated in the middle of open fields and wind. As I’m pumping gas a man approaches me. He is wearing full Carhart gear. He asks me if it’s cold out. I’m shocked because he is clearly dressed for the cold. I get it though, nobody knows how to start a conversation with the motorcyclist in the middle of January in the early stages of an ice storm.
More than likely he is thinking to himself; “What an idiot.”
His obvious question must be somehow a test of my mental stability.
That brings up a common question from people when they spot me out. How do you ride in cold weather?
Most motorcyclists know that it is an option, just prefer not to do it. If you haven’t experienced being the only motorcyclist out on the road during cold spells, I highly encourage it. The coldest weather to date that I have ridden in was 7 degrees in the middle of the night traveling home from some friends house an hour away from home. I’ll post some gear ideas and special considerations in the near future for all of you looking to experience the Polar Ride.
In the meantime, get some heated gear specifically made for motorcycling. Lightweight, plugs into the bike itself, wear it under your clothing. Within 5-seconds you’ll be experiencing the warmth of 130 degree micro-wires.
Rubber side down.