4 Life Lessons I Learned While Backpacking

Weeks back I went on the most adventurous trip of my life.

With my uncle, we spent three nights deep in the California Eastern Sierras, setting up camp among ten lakes all within a half mile of the next, while at 11,000 feet of elevation. The surroundings offered peaks, avalanche chutes, and untouched wilderness in every direction.

But even more beautiful were the lessons learned on this trip.

Mother Nature (and life) rewards those willing to work hard.

When receiving our permits and telling the ranger we wanted the Sawmill Pass Trail, he looked puzzled because less than 1% of people who visit the Sierras take that route (for good reason).

Sawmill Pass requires both physical and mental grit, taking eight hours to reach the pass after ten miles and 7300 feet of elevation gain. What awaited us had to be the closest place to Heaven on Earth.

Seeing the immaculate, untouched land that few elite hikers ever experienced, taught me that the tougher, less-traveled road produces the greatest rewards. In backpacking (and life) if you’re willing to put in the work — more work than most people are willing to do — you’ll be rewarded handsomely. It takes commitment, and it presents a challenge, but it’s surely worth it.

This world is beautiful.

Growing up, I rarely ventured out. Comfortable where I was, I didn’t reach for much more excitement. I started to pick up hiking, and was amazed by how much beauty had always been around me. Only having spent one night in the wilderness, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

After seeing the glory of God’s creation, only achievable by giving three nights to explore deep away from civilization, I learned that unknown beauty surrounds us. Experiences, places, and opportunities are out there. Get out, explore, and see what this world offers.

Family’s everything.

People come and go; but family’s forever.

Knowing that, why not put aside time everyday to deepen relationships and bonds with the people that are always there for us? Luckily, I had the chance to spend four days with an uncle that’s given me everything: support, experiences, inspiration, guidance, etc.

It’s one thing to spend some time with family, but a prolonged trip deepens that bond. Four days solely with family changes relationships — I see him in a different light and respect him much more. Our bond is deeper, and now we have that experience forever.

Chase experiences, not possessions.

While this trip cost something, it didn’t break our bank. With the money spent for supplies, gear, and transportation, my we could’ve easily bought a new TV (maybe one each), but what would that accomplish?

Just like the last lesson, possessions are temporary — they’re blips of enjoyment that provide surface-level joy. But our experience, the one including three nights in the wilderness, cooking fish we caught over a fire, and exploring one of the most beautiful spots in America — that’s an easy choice. I’ll take that trip to the grave; I’ll never forget it.

I live consciously, learning every day. Experiences — both good and bad — provide lessons. Look for them.