In defense of the easy overnight

In my early 30s, I never figured I’d come out swinging in defense of the easy overnight backpacking trip. But then things started to happen, including two kids who are now tweens with after school practices, rehearsals, and Dungeons & Dragon campaigns.

Gymnastics and theater, basketball and taekwando with weekend games, performances, and sleepovers.

But last week, I seized on the opportunity to take an easy overnight backpack that I won’t soon forget. We left Wednesday at 4pm and after a couple of stops, were to the trailhead by 7pm. Yes, a long drive, but that’s what it takes to get out into this remote arm of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The hike in took us through cathedral-like forests and to a prolific outcrop that overlooks the Wild Rogue Wilderness.

After some hot noodles and some banter with my staff, I set my bedroll on a flat spot and didn’t bother setting up a tent. It didn’t take long for the stars and galaxies to take shape. Soon the milky way came into full spectrum, providing a dazzling spectacle, and I realized that I had forgotten how much I missed those stars. Meteors blasted through the western sky, burning in the atmosphere.

Those stars and fiery rocks put into perspective the news cycles and the anxieties of world politics, war, and speculation of conflict, and makes it all seem small. They made me feel small, but in a good way, and that’s just what I needed.

The next morning, we hiked back less than a mile to the trailhead. Yes, it was a long drive for a short hike. But the saunter through that ancient forest in the gentle of the morning light was worth it, and I got home early enough to put a half-day in at the desk.

So I invite you to take that next easy overnight backpacking trip, even if it’s just a mile or two, as soon as you get the chance. Family obligations, work commitments, and achy Achilles tendons are a real thing, almost as sure as death and taxes. But we still owe it to ourselves, our sanity, and those around us to get out into the backwoods, and it turns out you can get a dose of that medicine in less than 24 hours.

And if you’re not sure where to go, join me in October where I’ll share some of my favorite easy overnight backpacking trips:

October 19 @ 5:30pm
33 3rd Street
Downtown Ashland, OR
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