Inspired by the 40th anniversary of my first backpacking trip, I decided to try and pull into one place all of my various trip reports and other information about backpacking that I have been collecting most of my life.
July 31st, 1970 my parents dropped a friend and me off at a trail head for the Appalachian Trail in Vermont. It was my (and his) first backpacking trip without adults, we were 13! It was planned to be a week long walk but we only made it one night after getting rained on, getting a bit damp and carrying packs that were way too heavy.
It was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with walking into wild areas with everything I needed on my back.
As kids we had grown up camping with my family, starting from before we could walk, so the outdoors was ingrained in us. There was Boy Scouts too, with monthly camping trips in all seasons where we would carry our packs and supplies into our camps, maybe a mile, but it was all really just car camping until that first trip.
Turns out that I have lived in many different parts of the country and have been able to hike in those and other areas, some extensively. Now a farmer in North Carolina for more than 30 years, my hiking is mostly confined to the non-growing season of October to March and is one of the things that keeps me in shape for the farming season. The short hikes in the Southern Appalachians also keeps my skills and equipment honed for bigger trips in the desert Southwest. On average I spend a little more than two weeks in the backcountry each year.
I figure I have about another fifteen years of good backpacking left before I have to start to consider slowing down. Too many places left to explore!