It’s amazing how inspiring social media can be to an outdoors lover such as myself. I knew I would be heading out on a backpacking trip to the Olympic Peninsula weeks before I headed out, so what is the first thing I did to prepare you might ask? I hit social media to see pictures of other people’s experiences in the same place of course! A quick search of #ShiShiBeach filled my screen with beautiful forest and beach photos that immediately got me hyped for the trip. The more I scrolled through endless scenes of sunsets, tents on the sand, and camping food, the more excited I became. I continued to check the Hashtag daily until my trip, to keep track of what the weather was doing, etc. On my trip to Shi Shi Beach I was able to add a couple of photos to the plethora of gorgeous photos on Instagram with hopes that my additions would soon inspire another backpacker who might be planning their trip for a later day. Even now looking back at the picture I took of the campfire I can almost smell it, feel the warmth, hear the crackle that a late night campfire brings. My favorite part about the trip that cannot possibly be captured in the photo, was the constant sound of the ocean waves in the background, lulling you to sleep at night, and gracefully bringing you back from dreamland in the morning.
The next stage of my trip would be the planning stage, and that could be done through social media too! I directed my attention from Instagram to Pinterest to start planning. Pinterest is a pretty amazing tool where you can create what they call “boards” to organize or plan pretty much anything. From random ideas, to trips, parties, ANYTHING! From there other people can see the things that you’ve pinned and add them to their boards, comment on them, save them, and like them. All the things we are used to doing in our other social media interactions. Once I got to Pinterest I knew it was going to be an overload of information, so I typed in a simple search “backpacking” and was on my way, pinning to my already existing board “let’s sleep outside”. On Pinterest I was able to find everything from lists of what to pack, how to pack my backpack, infographics on how my backpack should be positioned on my body, what to eat (which is extra important to me because I am a vegetarian and wanted to make sure I got enough energy without meat for protein), water filters, etc. It didn’t take long for me to arguably have too many pins. (My let’s sleep outside board now has over 200 pins, and I own many of the items I’ve pinned!) Pinterest has also incorporated a way for businesses to make items that they pin ”buyable”. This means that on the pin you can see how much the item costs, and click on an included link to easy buy the product without ever truly leaving Pinterest. Once you make your purchase you are in a great position to keep on Pinning away, and of course you can save items to any of your boards for later purchasing. When preparing for a trip where you will be somewhat off the grid for a period of time there are things you can easily forget to do in preparation, and things that you might not remember until you are on the trail! What a horrible time to remember that you only brought one pair of socks! Pinterest became a platform for me to organize all of the necessities for before, during, and even after my trip. This allowed me to leave on my trip stress free and confident that I had everything I needed for the journey. Once I got home I knew exactly what I needed to do with my super wet tent that I had to pack up, and how to store everything from my sleeping bag to my hydration pack for safe keeping.
Now that I am back from my completely socially planned trip and have my own experiences to go along with those that I got from fellow campers and backpackers I have a little advice for camping on the Olympic Peninsula (or really anywhere that you have to hike in with all of your gear on your back):
Assume its going to rain! No matter what the forecast says, just assume it’s going to rain and pack accordingly, trust me, it is always better to be dry than to be wet when you are hiking with 50 pounds on your back and then sleeping on the ground. Bring rain gear (it’s light!), bring a tarp, and bring layers! You’ll appreciate all of these things once it’s time to lay your head down for the night.
You probably won’t eat as much as you think you will… With miles of hiking in, and what I assumed would be hours of beach exploration I made some assumptions about how much food I would need. All lies! I was actually so busy pumping water, fussing around with camp, and playing that I ate less than I would on a normal Saturday. This may not be the same for everyone, but even the men with us ate less than they usually do. A lot of the food consumed was pretty hearty protein bars, beef jerky, etc. so when it came time for a substantial meal we weren’t as hungry as you’d expect. You can find tons of tips for what food you should bring on Pinterest!
It’s going to hurt! I don’t care how “in shape” you are, hiking 5 miles with 50+ pounds on your back is a bear of a task! While you’re hiking it hurts, and the next day it hurts! I’ve been back for four days now and I still have bruises on my collar bones from my backpack straps. I go to the gym multiple times per week but my legs were still sore from climbing up a muddy hill, while holding onto a rope for support, with a huge backpack on. You can do all of the recommended exercises to prepare you for backpacking (and I found a ton on social media) and you will still be sore the next day. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s a good kind of sore, the same kind you feel from having an amazing workout. The pain of accomplishment, my favorite kind! Check out WordPress blogger Hovering Waters post for tips on exercises to prepare you for backpacking: 8 Week Workout for Backpacking/Hiking
In the end, it’s all worth it! Obviously you chose to put yourself through the horrors of hiking through the muddy woods with all that you will need for a couple of nights on your back for a reason right? It’s so fun! I highly doubt anyone would ever tell you that their favorite part of backpacking is carrying all of their stuff on their back. The reason for the hard work is always the reward at the end of the trail, and of course along the way. First of all, hiking through the woods completely surrounded by a canopy of trees is an experience. The smell of trees, leaves, and even sap is amazing! No car exhaust, garbage, or any of the other human made smells are nearby to ruin it for you. The green glow the trees shine on everything is beautiful, there were periods where we were so surrounded by trees that we couldn’t even see the sky! Along the way there are several lookouts where you can see what is to come, the amazing beach of the peninsula. Once you break out of the woods and get to the beach, smell the ocean air, feel the sand on your feet, you are certain that the journey was all worth it. There is no turning back now, and luckily the only task left to do is find the perfect place to camp! There is nothing better than choosing a camp spot where you will wake up to the sounds of the waves and the smell of salt in the air.