- I embarked on a backpacking trip with a group of friends, in an effort to discover the merits of being in the wilderness for days on end, as well as to learn the ins and outs of managing some of the most thriving national parks on the west coast – and to apply that knowledge to my natural resource management degree, that I’m currently earning at the Ohio State University. The trip took 25 days, across 4 national parks (Rocky Mountains, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, Sequoia) and provided us with enough backpacking experience to relay to interested, up-and-coming backpackers, via a website.
- Going into this journey, I already had a love for nature and for conserving our planets resources, so that the beauty of the natural world can be shared and witnessed by all. This was amplified after my STEP signature project. Being submerged in the woods after a hard days trek was such a rewarding experience. The scenery of the landscape is unparalleled out west, and being able to discover some of the most breathtaking sights in the nation was a humbling experience. Being able to live simply; only having to worry about food, water, and shelter was one of the transformations I went through and could really appreciate. Life for many people can be stressful, hectic, and outright crazy, but getting back to the basics was a nice break from my daily stressors as a student and as a member of society in general. The transformation regarding my passion for my major was also transformed. I wasn’t too sure what I specifically wanted to be doing after college, but after talking to some of the park rangers and listening to their experiences, I have a better outlook and plan for what I want to be doing in the future, and a genuine feeling of excitement too.
- One such experience that was challenging for my group and I, was the elevation change when hiking up the mountains. There’s less oxygen in the air and it’s much more difficult carrying 40 pounds of equipment on your back, when going uphill. Rocky mountain was our first time backpacking, and it just so happened to have the highest elevation gain. This experience made the remaining 3 hikes much easier, and enabled us to warn others (through our website) to be prepared when scheduling a long days hike up a high elevation mountain.
Another experience that aided in the transformation of being a backpacking novice to an intermediate backpacker, was listening to some of the experiences that the park rangers had. I vividly remember walking down the mountain, about 1000 feet outside of the trail- head, when three park rangers guiding 3 llamas and a few donkeys, with a vast amount of gear on their backs, pass us by. They told us that they were on a mission to repair some of the outhouses up at the top of the mountain and were in charge of leading the animals up the mountain with all their gear. It was stories like these that made it seem fun to be a park ranger. Some of the missions they are entrusted with are so unique and strange, and involve hiking through some very visually appealing woods and creeks. These are the stories that revived my passion for working outdoors and managing our planets ecosystems.
4. I think this experience had a great overall impact on my life. It really allowed me to live simply and appreciate the quiet places and beautiful imagery of the natural world. The introspection that occurred on this trip was also a very useful tool in motivating me to do better in school and graduate with a degree that helps to maintain the beauty of these parks, as well as to contribute to a flourishing ecosystem for both animals and humans to enjoy. My passion for being in the wilderness has never been so great and has excited me for the future backpacking trips I plan to embark on.