This was my home for the last three days, 8,000 feet up on a lake in the High Sierra’s. One of my best friends from High School is getting married in September and rather than throw the traditional bachelor party, he thought it would be a lot of fun to go backpacking – and I think he made a great move there.
On Saturday nine of us strapped on everything we needed to live for three days and set off on a seven mile hike, uphill, to Kennedy Lake. I used to backpack quite a bit when I was younger but it has easily been fifteen years since I’ve strapped on a 30+ pound pack and headed into the mountains. The experience was amazing in many ways and as usual I like to document my reflections and of course share them with all of you at the same time.
So here it goes…but first, one more picture to get you into the moment.
- It is incredibly refreshing to completely unplug – when I go on vacation I usually make sure I have Internet access and end up checking email at least a few times a day. While I still enjoy vacation, I have to say this has given me some perspective, without thinking about email (since there was no way to check it without hiking 7 miles down a mountain) it really helped my mind unwind.
- Spending time with good friends is one of the best ways to spend your time – as a startup founder I find myself judging the success of a day (weekday or weekend) based on how much I get done or how much we get done together as a team. I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices over the years and one of those has been spending a lot less time with friends. This trip reminded me that I really do need to take a step back every now and then and just spend time with good friends. No excuses, I can make the time and I really should be doing it more.
- Nature is absolutely amazing – I spent just about all day, every day of the trip in awe of nature. From the mountains to the rivers, lakes, trees, and even the rocks, nature is incredible. While you can definitely see and appreciate nature on a day hike, I think there’s something special about backpacking and getting off the beaten trail to a part of nature that isn’t as accessible by people. Listening to the water rushing by, the birds chirping, and the view right in front of me was incredible. No music, no Internet, no comfy chair or couch, just sitting on a rock by a river – absolutely magical.
- Surviving in nature is a full time job – along with being absolutely beautiful, every day on a backpacking trip revolves around survival. When you wake up in the morning you walk down to the river and create new fresh filtered water. Then you start a fire and start making breakfast, by the time you’re done with breakfast you have a couple of hours to get out and explore before you need to go back to making fresh water, getting a fire going, and making your next meal. There’s something really peaceful about this rhythm and it also reminds you how much we get used to our creature comforts. And yes – next time you see a toilet, appreciate it for all it’s majesty because going to the bathroom in the woods is an entirely different experience.
- Your body can do more than you think – so my backpack ended up weighing around 40 pounds, which is more weight than I’ve had on my back in a very long time. Couple this with hiking uphill for seven miles and I was wondering how my body was going to take it. I’ve had some back and knee problems over the last few years and I thought…okay, what am I going to pinch, tweak, or dislocate. Amazingly (knock on wood) I was able to do the hike and actually felt pretty darn energized the entire time.
Okay, enough reflecting, time to catch up on email and get ready for a busy week ahead. I feel more refreshed than I have in a long time which makes me think this probably won’t be my last backpacking trip of the year. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to comment and share reflections on your own adventures or comment on mine.