By: Elizabeth McDonald
When I decided to go on backpacking trip, I had no idea how it would affect me. I thought I might learn how to put up a tent or make a good meal in the wilderness. I assumed I would be challenged both physically and mentally. I hoped I would form some strong friendships. I never really thought about how I would feel afterward. During the trip, I missed fresh fruit, hot showers and contact with my family. Now that I am back, I am happy to have all these things back but I’m surprised by the amount of things I miss about the backcountry.
To start off, the silence. No matter how hard you try, you can never replicate the type of silence that is experienced when you’re miles away from other people. It can be startlingly overpowering but the serenity of it is empowering. Secondly, the simplicity of life. After the initial culture shock, walking to new home every night became a routine. In the front country, it seems there are always more things to get done than time. Finally, the company. While fifteen of us have moved on to the next segment together, we have moved on without three of our family members. Not only did the I-team provide us with knowledge, they also enabled us to be competent in a variety of situations.
All that being said, I’m not planning to go live in the backcountry for the rest of my life. I’ve been exposed to the wonders of the front country too long not to miss something. However, the experience gave me three major takeaways. One: tolerance for uncertainty and adversity. In life, there are things that are in and out of your control. You can’t change the things out of your control but you can change how you react to them. Two: live in the moment. Life is too precious to wish away. Three: don’t expect the unexpected. Accept it.