Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

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Lumbergh21
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Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by Lumbergh21 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 8:48 am

Please take this with the best of intentions and assuming it is a legitimate question, not rhetorical, because it isn't rhetorical. I've been on some Facebook backpacking pages recently and have been struck by the number of things some people are afraid of outside the city. They're afraid of bears, mt lions, snakes, insects, falling down a cliff, avalanches, water crossings, snow, the weather, not enough water, other people, being alone, not enough food, and I'm sure a few other things I forgot. Some are even afraid of all of these things. I get it if a new backpacker has questions, but when you try to explain why this isn't something that they really need to worry about, and they refuse to accept it...It just struck me this morning, why do they want to enter this dark, dangerous place called a National Park/Wilderness? Is it because they saw a movie and thought this will be fun, but don't really enjoy the outdoors? Is it that they want to.turn the hike into some epic adventure? Why do they want to go backpacking when they seem to be afraid of every aspect.of it, including the stuff that makes it so enjoyable for many of us?








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rlown
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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by rlown » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:22 am

I've never been scared of the outdoors as my parents introduced me to it through camping and hunting.
But, with that said, I tend to go to places when I know ManBearPig and Sasquatch aren't around. :)

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by AaronRDavis » Mon Mar 18, 2019 12:58 pm

Just to provide a direct answer to your question....Maybe it's because people are drawn to visual beauty, camaraderie, and transcendent experiences, but don't want to get injured or killed, or have a bad time. Perhaps they need to be convinced that many of the fears you mentioned are irrational ones, or they may need to just learn that from experience.

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:21 pm

Parenting nowadays sometimes results in fearful kids because every risk has been taken out of their lives or managed by parents so they view the entire world as fearful. Then there is the natural desire of youth to take risks and explore (they DO want to do it). And add the internet and you-tube videos and ridiculous "reality TV" like the "survivor" (unrealistic presentation of dangers). I think what you observe is simply add all that up.

I find that once these urban people actually backpack, the ones who do not like it end up missing their creature comforts and electronic devices more than feeling too much danger. In fact, backpacking can seem downright boring if you expect a lot of "adventure". The ones who tend to stick with it are those who are more observant and struck by the beauty.

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by SSSdave » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:35 pm

One should be concerned about items you listed plus several more like being able to cope with the strenuous effort. What you may be interpreting in comments on some items is more likely concern rather than fear though for items like bears it is indeed a primal fear and one most of us have that is healthy. Those urban people without any outdoor experiences especially no hiking at all are most likely to reflect your comment of fearing most of those items as they are unknowns. And for them you could add fear of twisting an ankle, fear of getting lost, fear of quicksand at water crossings, and especially if solo fear of being alone in the dark.

On the other hand, an urban person that occasionally visits parks and natural areas outside cities, especially if they car camp and hike natural areas are not going to fear most of those items but rather will have concerns and many may actually enjoy the challenge of putting such adventures into action. Any little experience young fit urban person that visits say an outdoor store like REI is going to pick up on the vibe and excitement of others with many becoming interested enough to investigate what is happening. And in this era in those same social media threads where some are afraid, the threads themselves serve purpose of educating others away from those fears as the experienced relate that almost no fit person ever twists their ankle, there are no poisonous snakes at high elevations, and quicksand is only in old Hollywood Western movies or Gilligan's Island.

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:24 pm

To directly address the original question which was why do folks with so much fear of things in the wilderness want to go backpacking anyway I think there are several reasons. First of all I think there some folks who want to confront their fears as an end in itself---whether it be fear of outdoors or something else. However, I don't think this constitutes the majority of those who head out in the face of their fear. I suspect that most of these folks head out, even though afraid, because they feel the likely positives of the backpacking experience outweighs those fears.

Regarding urban folks who are afraid of things outdoors, we should also remember there are folks who live far from big cities who have a fear of said big cities, but will journey there anyway, too.

As for what keeps many urban folk from going to the backcountry, in my experience with a huge number of urban friends and acquaintances fear doesn't seem to be that big a factor. I know that the above mentioned lack of the the comforts of civilization is a factor for some, be it a comfy bed to sleep in, shower after sweating and getting grime all over for a day, etc. For many (most?) it is simply not knowing about the potential pleasures and wonders of being in the wilderness. If there has been no real exposure to it, how can one know?

I differed from the vast majority of my peers because my dad took the family up to the High Sierra. I became entranced with so many of the wonders and pleasures of the high mountains but who knows what would have happened if my dad had not taken me up there (probably wouldn't have majored in geology, either, had it not been for that outdoor exposure).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by balzaccom » Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:45 am

Sublime beauty, nature, the xercise, and quality time with people I love. And you don't understand that, I'll fall back on that great mountain climbing answer--if you have to ask the question, you wouldn't understand my answer.
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check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:18 am

There is, as I explain ad infinitum to clients, a difference between the healthy sort of concern one should generally have in certain situations, and FEAR. Fear is a BAD thing to have in a complex sort of situation and a good thing to have when it's very straightforward, ie a predator is chasing you. If you are sitting there with someone having some sort of medical crisis, OTOH, you need the opposite, you need calm and rational. The chemistry of fear shuts down calm and rational and leads to mistakes.

Folks are being told that being outdoors is healthy. Articles are all over the internet about doctors prescribing it. And there are plenty of pics all over social media showing off very beautiful stuff. So people ask for directions and other people give them, and then the wilderness is flooded with noobs who don't even know what questions to ask. SAR is busier than it's ever been.

People want to do neat things, come back and be like their friends and post about it. Case in point would be a facebook friend who posts the pics she takes on her tame little frontcountry hike in some regional park, and all HER friends are pumping her up about her 'adventurous' lifestyle - her friends are sedentary, she is nearly so, and she seems to get a kick out of how edgy and risky she is getting. Last person you want on a seven day backpacking outing, and thankfully she hasn't tried that yet.

I would argue that people are not aware of the levels of anxiety they have generally, too often. Have seen this in my office -- I find myself feeling anxious just sitting with the person, ask, and he denies anxiety, yet also doesn't have a lot of insight into his own feelings. I have to say to people that no, you didn't answer my question of how you feel, you told me what you think -- it's totally possible to not recognize one's own anxiety. I recognize it in the newbies that come out with me and can't sleep a wink, since they are listening to the uncomfortable silence just waiting to hear the bear roaring into camp to eat them. They deny anxiety but they "just can't sleep because I kept thinking there was a bear" --- no, that's fear. It's survival - that primitive part of us manifests itself on the daily.

If you have no experience of it it's the unknown. One of the better things my family did for me, though they didn't think about it that way, was spend our summers out there - created a norm that included a feeling of "home" for us that connected us to the outdoors. You need to go and KEEP GOING to have that feeling. You have to train the part of the brain that keeps us on edge while we are in a new place that this is a safe place, it's ok, to have the full measure of peace. And before you reply and say the wilderness isn't safe - yes, it is. It is as safe as you are anywhere on the planet. There are ALWAYS risks and you are only mitigating different ones, as you move from one place to another. Walking my dog around my neighborhood means looking out for cars, muggers, and inattentive folks on bikes. I am 100% more likely to die in a car accident than hiking on a trail 10 miles from my car. In the wilderness people have unrealistic ideas because of what uneducated people say to them as they panic and try to keep them from going at all, so the newbs fear the things that are less likely to happen and ignore things like what their body is telling them ie "I don't want to drink more water because I'll get up all night to pee" vs understanding that they are dehydrated, didn't drink enough hiking in, and need to replenish so they won't freeze all night, get up and yell at me that they will never come out again etc.

In summary - people want to backpack because some information says it's fun and cool and epic and whatever, and they want to say that they have backpacked. They have an idea that the wilderness is a good thing, a beautiful thing, and they want to experience it - a common thread in the Yosemite forum are people who want to come from another country and "experience Yosemite fully" and think that backpacking is the way they need to do it. The mentality is very different for someone who is just visiting, it leads to the fire ring mitigation crews and the trail crews packing out tons of trash. It's not their home. It's a place they visit and they're guests. And they don't understand that the fear of animals is only a generalization (fear of animals is perfectly rational in places where there are entire hierarchies of predators, say, Africa) and the statistics support more likelihood of fender benders or killing the bear with your car on the way to the trailhead.

I go because the front country is just where I work. My people are campers and hikers, and my home is not the house I live in. There are a lot of tourists and there aren't many of us picking up after them, but it's usually the case that you don't expect guests to be as careful about picking up after themselves.

If you keep going camping and backpacking, you figure out how to be warmer and more comfortable, or you stop going... altho you may find masochists. Ran into a retired gent sitting on top of Hell for Sure Pass resting with his boots off - the tops of his toes were covered with blisters. He did not seem terribly concerned about them. Apparently it was his normal. What was not was my radio and gps in a chest pack (I was in full SAR gear including the t shirt with logo) and he poo-poo'd the newfangled gps device. I did not bother him with why a gps can be useful for SAR, simply wished him a good trip - he and the missus were going 4 miles per day, and having the time of their lives with big bear cans and camping wherever they wished for 14 days. Some of us are willing to suffer to stay at home, some of us find our compromises.

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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by simonov » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:38 am

I honestly don't know why any adult would want to try backpacking for the first time. It certainly doesn't look appealing to me. The only reason I am an enthusiastic backpacker is because I started when I was a kid, in the Boy Scouts. I had no choice; they stuck that stone on my back and sent me on my way. It wasn't voluntary.

A couple anecdotes:

During my first semester in college I was being driven to some off-campus event by an economics professor. As we were chatting in the car I mentioned something about my Boy Scout experiences. He said, "I have a question for you. Do you guys, you know, actually spend the night out there?" :D He was a little incredulous.

A few years ago my partner and I were spending some time with her brother, who is a professional outdoorsman (he works for a government agency or utility or something and spends a lot of time in the backcountry). He knew we were avid backpackers, but he said he didn't understand it. He said he could see backpacking out to a river or a lake for some fishing, or to go hunting, but to walk out into the wilderness overnight for no reason at all? That didn't make any sense to him. I guess I sorta saw his point.

However, I used to host beginner backpacking trips for the Orange County Hiking Club in SoCal, and met a lot of grown adults who decided to go backpacking for the first time. Sorry to say, I never saw most of these folks again.
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Re: Why Do You Want To Backpack Then?

Post by longri » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:52 am

So you want us to speculate as to the motivations of some group of faceless participants on a facebook page?

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