Origin Stories of Backcountrypost.com

LarryBoy

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For me, it started with trains.

I've always had a fascination with trains that I've never really grown out of. I'm a bit bookish, to put it kindly, and read/devoured everything I could on the subject as a kid. And of course, everyone knows that mountain railroading is the most interesting kind. Helper engines, bridges, tunnels, the whole nine yards.

Out of the interest in trains, I guess, grew an interest in mountains writ large. Living in the midwest, I had no access to the mountains, but I dreamed of visiting places like the Appalachians and the Rockies. During my freshman year of college, me and a couple friends went dumpster diving at the local Krispy Kreme at 3AM one night, and sat around eating reclaimed donuts and discussing spring break plans. We settled on the Smokies.

Like @AKay09, our trip went more or less terribly. It snowed like the dickens, I got hypothermia, my buddy dropped his shoes in a raging creek, and we all carried 60lbs of crap. Canned foods, an axe and saw, and all the rest. But although the trip was a bit of a disaster, it was still fun - and while looking at park maps, the Appalachian Trail caught my eye.

Again, I'm a bit of a nerd, so I started reading everything I could about the AT. And the more I read, the more I wanted to do it. I went to Spain my sophomore year, where there were some small mountains virtually in my backyard. I enjoyed hiking there too - simple dayhikes to be sure, but still a revelation for me. And at the end of my junior year, I saw a posting for an internship (in a field I wouldn't otherwise be interested in) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I didn't know much about Salt Lake. I knew they had the a mountain range called the Wasatch (because the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy class was built in large part to haul trains up the 0.82% grades in Weber and Echo Canyons), which I guess made sense, given that they had hosted the '02 Olympics. So what the heck. I wasn't interested in the job necessarily, but I was a Philosophy major with zero career prospects at the end of my junior year, and spending a summer out in the mountains sounded like a lot of fun.

Long story short, that summer in Utah changed my life. Every week I'd go hiking. Lake Blanche. Deseret. Broads Fork Twins. Olympus. Timp. Lone Peak. The Pfeifferhorn. And on the way back east to start my senior year, I climbed Kings Peak and tooled around in the Tetons.

I did the Appalachian Trail the following spring, after graduation. I was still very green, having taken three backpacking trips ever, two of which ended in bailout. But I made it and learned quite a few lessons along the way. Most importantly, I learned that I truly enjoyed the outdoors and the act of traveling thru the wilderness by foot.

Over the past four years in Utah, I've taken deliberate steps to improve my skills in the outdoors. I've lightened my pack, honed my navigational abilities, focused my mind, increased my logistical savvy. I'm still a newbie, but I'm learning. Some day I hope to be like some of you more experienced folks - you've been everywhere and seen everything. But the nice thing is - the process of gaining that experience is in itself a joy.
 

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Outdoor_Fool

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I'll try and keep this brief. I was raised in Virginia. I grew up fishing a lot in the local river and ponds/lakes. My family never camped or hiked, only drove through Shenandoah NP a couple times on our way to other places. But as others have mentioned, I was born with it. I was in the scouts for a year, which was bizarre. The scout masters and other volunteer dads saw our camping trips as an excuse to play cards and drink, which they did from Friday evening until Sunday morning. The youth leaders wanted us to stay in camp and work on Merit Badges which I had little interest in. After being scolded several times for going hiking, I quit.

I camped few times with friends until I was about 20. Then I spent a summer in Colorado and BOOM!, my world changed. I went back to VA and spent almost every weekend camping & hiking. I then moved back to CO the following spring and worked way too much all summer. That fall I drove to Yellowstone for a couple days and experienced my first blizzard, which was a blast. I then went on a solo venture into the Rawah Wilderness north of Steamboat, where I lived. The plan was for 2 nights but again a snow storm hit and by the time I reached Gold Creek Lake, I was plowing through waist deep snow. I hiked back out to the vehicle that day. I had an eye-opening but awesome time and was hooked on wild country. Since then it's been a big focus of my life (hence my avatar name) to be outdoors, leading to the pseudo-career (see career thread) as a seasonal employee for the Forest Service, BLM, Park Service, etc.

My wife and I have taken our kids camping, hiking, rafting, etc. since they were 4-5 months old. As a teenager and almost-teen, they have lost interest in outdoor stuff but we drag them along when we can convince them it's in their best interest. They still have a great time but that inertia thing makes it difficult to get them out there. Anyway, taking them out is still great fun and I hope they continue the outdoor activities once it's considered cool again. If not, at least they had the childhood I wanted, and they'll hate me for it. And so it goes... :)
 

Outdoor_Fool

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For me, it started with trains. I've always had a fascination with trains that I've never really grown out of.
Holy crap! @LarryBoy , you are speaking my language! Although your path of discovery was more cerebral than mine.

You just conjured up some awesome times during my high school/college years. When I was in high school, I was fishing the James River and a freight train rolled by and slowed to let a train headed the opposite direction pass. Once it slowed enough, I ran and jumped on it for about a 1/4 mile but that triggered a thirst. About a year after that, my friends and I started hopping freight trains out of Richmond in any direction the trains were going. This led to some awesome ventures up and down the east coast and beyond. Once I moved west, the fun continued with some day trips and week-long trips around the west. I think my pulse still picks up a bit when I hear the trains coming into or leaving the freight yard which is only a half-mile from the house.

Thanks for triggering those memories,@LarryBoy !
 

chandlerwest

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Feb 7, 2015
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485
I got started with the family road trips. We made a trip to Montana when I couldn't have been more than 3 years old and I swear I have a memory from that trip! Then in 1975 my oldest brother and his wife took my parents on a 30th anniversary trip to the west coast...and I tagged along. On that trip I believe I became "chandlerwest". My huge family is all centered around Indianapolis but I was simply pulled west. I found myself working seasonal for three years in Glacier and at Schweitzer Ski resort in the mid/late '80s. My love of the outdoors has mostly been limited to the day hiking variety. How much can I accomplish in the day but still get back to the car and motel room at the end of the day. I know there are a few miles still out there, but I can still confidently claim to have hiked All the day hiking miles in Glacier National Park. Hiking is all about the photography with me. My camera locked up on me in Glacier once and I wasn't sure what to do with myself. The camera is a Major part of my outdoor experience. Part of that is driven with the fact that my entire family is back east so it is the only way of sharing my life with them. Now BCP! I struggle with my place in this community but my sons @Scott Chandler and @Jeffrey Chandler got me into this family. I relate with the love of capturing the outdoors thru photography. Scott's growth into backpacking is well documented in this forum and Jeff is well on his way to self cloning himself into Scott. How can not be inspired and motivated by these two. Where once backpacking never appealed to me....now it is a possibility. Jeff has pushed me to get off-trail. The past two summers, with our few off-trails, in Glacier and all my trekking in Zion National Park...this has been from their influence. I take no more pride than being able to go to Zion NP and NOT see another sole all day once I leave the car. So my wanderlust has grown exponentially since being introduced to BCP. I even got a night out with Jeff a year or so ago. He wanted to do a two night backpack up La Verkin Creek in Zion. When we went to pull the permit they wouldn't give it to him solo because he was to young. So I went with him. I cowboy camped. Damn hard ground but I enjoyed myself. It was his beginning backcountry trip so I let him do Everything. I was just a "ghost". It was fun! Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences and photography.
 
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Ben

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Ben, what a Great Idea! Am loving these threads.

Now as for myself, guess you might say I was born with the mountains in my blood. I was born in Denver, Colorado within sight of the Rockies back in 1956. But Colorado back then was not how it is today but was like another state without all the ski areas and resorts cluttering the mountains. And Denver back then was like a large town then the big city it is today. And when I was a kid, my family was always going up into the mountains camping. My father loved loved to fly fish. So we were always somewhere up in the mountains camping, then eating the fresh trout right out of the streams into the frying pan at night. The main place we went to for years and years was in the Glenwood Springs area. I can still remember Colorado as it was without Vail, without Lake Dillon, No I-70 and such. My father worked for Shell and some years later my father was transferred to Houston, Texas. I never got the fishing bug as much of my family did. When camping I was always out exploring, watching the birds and catching snakes. Now once we got to Texas, there was a nice patch of woods right up the street. And whenever not in school was up there wandering around in the woods and of course ... catching snakes. And also my family whenever the summer vacation time came around, the car would be packed up and then off to Colorado to camp and fish. And my mother also was from idaho, so at times we would end up there in Idaho also.

But in Houston, as the years past, I got caught up in a local church down in Houston. So by the time the mid 70s came around, I ended up helping a missionary down deep in Mexico for awhile. But at times would go out hiking and birdwatching. Now my brother became the first actual backpacker in the family. Back in the mid 70s, my brother had attended several NOLS courses out of Lander, Wyoming. Something happened with me during the winter of 1977 -1978. It came to be that all I could think about was going back up to Colorado and hike / wander all summer long all by my lonesome. So the summer of 1978 came and off I went to Colorado. The trip lasted for 3 months hiking and traveling all around Colorado. In this first summer hiking, i was only 21 years old. I hiked and traveled all over included also in the Uinta's in Utah. My longest actual hike was a 10 day hike between towns in the Weminuche in Southwest Colorado. And I loved Telluride! I Absolutely Loved IT! Then it came to be the next summer in 1979. And it just had to be with all I could think of was back off to Colorado for the summer to hike and wander. This time I spent 4 months in Colorado and some in nearby Utah. Again I absolutely loved it! In this summer spent days in the San Juans, the Gore Range, the Indian Peaks area, Mt. of the Holy Cross area, the Flat Tops and so much more. Guess after this second summer was hooked for life! I went back to Colorado in 1980, then Yellowstone and the Wind Rivers in 1981, Yellowstone with the Absarokas and the Thorofare in 1982, Glacier and the Bob Marshall wilds in 1983 and on. And now 40 years later am still heading out. It has been a most amazing adventure bigtime. There is just sooooo much country out there. As now as I get older, am now 61, it is not what I have seen and experienced .... but what I have not seen and experienced. And it all began on that first summer of 1978 with heading to Colorado. Also am eternally grateful to my parents who raised me right for when I was just a small small kid, taking me camping up in the Colorado Rockies and eating those fish straight out of those creeks.

Hope this is not too long. Wishing Everyone the best!
I loved reading this.
 

Ben

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Anyone ever see "Wild" with Reese Witherspoon? Regardless if you liked it or not, it pretty much defines my experience I saw this movie after I started hiking, but still very personal. I didn't do drugs or cheat on my husband though. Everyone has good things and bad things happen. My bad things just got me to a breaking point.

I have never camped or hiked as a child or teenager or adult. My folks didn't take me to national parks. We just weren't outdoorsy. I am scared of bugs, etc etc.

May 2016, I got to my darkest point. I got off work and just left for Oregon. It called to me. I drove in a daze and I think I even hallucinated LOL.

I didn't know where I was going, but I pulled over around 5:30 in the morning at a trail. I don't think it could have been more than 4 miles, but there was a waterfall at the end. The first waterfall I had ever seen. It was life changing and I have been hooked ever since. I started hiking that summer and learn something new everytime.

That is why this site has been so great. I do my research, but obviously still learned a lot of things the hard way. I don't have family or friends into this who can guide me.
Thanks for sharing this.
 

Parma

@parma26
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Feb 12, 2014
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706
I'd have to also say Boy Scouts, Troop 288 in Parma, Idaho. My first backpacking trip was in 1988 in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area in Eastern Oregon. And then I'd spend about three weeks every summer at Camp Morrison (Boy Scout camp) in McCall, Idaho for five years...age 12-16.

Then as an adult it took my oldest son turning 12 and starting Boy Scouts and me volunteering to go on a campout to get me back into it. And it's been amazing!
 

gnwatts

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May 19, 2012
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I spent my first 10 years in the San Fernando Valley near L.A., we moved to La Mesa, Ca (east of San Diego) in 1969. I started riding motorcycles, we could ride to the Mexican Border from my front door. Can't do that now. We owned a condo in Mammoth Lakes, first ski day in 1969. Spent summers in Mammoth, hiking and exploring the John Muir Trail and it's environs. I decided I liked backpacking, mainly because I could ditch my parents, God bless them. My father bought me my first SLR, and a small darkroom setup when I was 12. I was hooked. I moved out when I was 17, rented a small trailer near the beach in Leucadia, a small surf town north of San Diego. Lot's of good cheer, bean sprouts and hippy chicks. I body surfed a lot. Decided to attend the U of U, because I could ski at Alta half day for $6.25. I stayed in Salt Lake for 2 years. That was when I first saw southern Utah. Camped in Canyonlands, almost got beat up in Moab. Moved to L.A. to attend architecture school. I met Nancy. Got married in 1981. Honeymooned in Coyote Gulch. Then a friend and I decided Cedar Mesa was a spot we wanted to get to know. Which we did. We moved to the Telluride area in 1990, rented a house in Ophir, poulation 60 (65 dogs). Our son was born when we lived in Ophir in 1992. Moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1997, found a job in Aspen. I bought a canoe. We now live happily in Carbondale.
 

wsp_scott

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May 16, 2016
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Sorry for the very long response, I started writing and it just kept coming out.
TL;DR I am obsessed with backpacking because of BCP

I grew up in SW FL, my mother is not an outdoors person and my father who is an outdoors person was in CA. As a kid, my friends and I were always playing in "the woods" a roughly 1 square mile patch of slash pine and palmetos, it was impossible to get lost, you just had to walk about 1/2 mile in any direction and you would hit a road. But, it was a great outdoor space to build tree forts, have BB gun wars and generally do stupid early teen stuff :)

My first camping trip was an overnight cubscout trip with about 10 other boys and a couple dads. The only thing I remember is a "snipe hunt" once it got dark. The next camping trip was two nights canoeing on the Peace River in SW FL with some guys from the restaurant where I worked (I was probably about 20). About that time I became aware of the AT and thought that seemed pretty neat, but North GA is a long way from SWFL and I did not know anything about backpacking, so inertia took over and I did not make it to the AT.

There was a long gap where school and general life took over. I camped at a couple music festivals, my wife and I camped a little bit on the drive to Alaska, but I was not a backpacker. That began when my wife had a conference in Anchorage a couple years after we drove there, we rented a car so she could drop me off at Eagle River north of town to go solo backpacking for 2 or 3 nights. I hiked in to Eagle and Symphony Lakes and spent a couple days exploring the area, mostly postholing in snow trying to get to some of the higher tarns in the area. On the way out, I hiked up a hanging valley and explored for a couple hours. Awesome experience, but I still wasn't a backpacker.

A couple years later, a friend from grad school invited me to join him and another guy for a couple nights on the AT in GA. We had a great time and the next year, my friend and I did a 3 or 4 night trip in the smokies, and the year after that we did a 3 night trip in the Shining Rock Wilderness. Now I was a backpacker, but I was not obsessed yet :) That took a couple more years, some more solo trips and trips with my friend and a couple small overnights with my oldest (started when she was 4) reading trip reports on backpackinglight. What really pushed me over the edge is BCP and the 2016 bag night challenge. I did not participate, but it sparked something and I dove in for the 2017 bag night challenge. Now I am an obsessed backpacker and it is all BCP's fault :)
 

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Rockskipper

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I grew up on a ranch in Northwest Colorado, and my parents were too busy to notice what we kids were doing. We had horses and spent every waking moment either riding or wandering around the hills, even in the winters. We learned to be self-sufficient, and often went out all day long, taking nothing but a lunch. If we got into trouble, it was up to us to self-rescue. I loved geology and also archaeology, which led me to my current career. Sometimes we would go on long pack trips, just me and my brother, and come back a couple of days later. This was even as kids, and my parents didn't worry about us. It was a great way to grow up, but sometimes I'm surprised we made it.
 

Perry

Formerly Cuberant
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Aug 8, 2016
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My dad is the reason for my loving the mountains. He and my mom both grew up in Park City, Utah long before it became a ski town. He lived up on the hillside and told me of many adventures he had growing up exploring the countryside. He tells of camping in the Lake Flat area and hearing big cats hollering all night long. He also spent a lot of time fishing with his uncles in the Uintas, back when UT-150 was just a washboard dirt road, and was always talking about "hiking into the Cuberant" for a day of fishing . On one such trip his uncle decided they would go up and over the ridge to the east and drop down into Kamas Lake. They actually used ropes to get down over a cliff area. Yikes!

Growing up in southern California my dad would take me along on fishing trips along the eastern Sierras between Bishop and Bridgeport. I actually saw my first bear while fishing the lower Owens river below Pleasant Valley Dam. Many fond memories of those trips. Being a scout also contributed to my exposure to the mountains with several great long-term backpacking trips with my Dad into the High Sierras. I remember going to the library to check out every book I could find on fishing, hiking, mountains, etc. Pretty much anything I could find. I remember day dreaming thinking of the next trip. One summer when I was about fifteen my dad, brother and three of our Utah cousins did a three day backpacking trip into Cuberant Basin. At this point the backcountry was definitely a part of my DNA. As an adult the trips became few and far between to point of non-existence.

My wife, daughter and I moved from California in 1985 to Salk Lake. I was excited to be there hoping to be able to get out into the outdoors again. I did some afternoon/evening hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon and fished the creek quite a bit initially but eventually road trips and maybe a couple of stops fishing at roadside streams and lakes in the Uintas or up Big Cottonwood Canyon would be the extent of my being out. My wife really didn't want me going hiking alone and at the time I pretty much agreed it was probably not a good idea and gave it up all together. Yet, I always dreamed of getting back on the trail. Fast forward to age 58 and Christmas 2015...

My brother had come up from Dallas for a Christmas visit. I half jokingly suggested to him that we needed to backpack the Uinta Highline Trail before we got too old. I didn't expect anything to really come from it but secretly wished it would. A couple of months later Brent told me "Let's do it!" and that started my journey back into backpacking. We had to buy almost all new gear as anything we had left was ancient and pretty much unusable. I had to get serious about getting into shape. This was a very ambitious endeavor to say the least, but we actually pulled it off in August 2016 and August 2017. If you're interested in that story see my two trip reports.

The rest is history! I'm back!
 

Perry

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For me, it started with trains.

I've always had a fascination with trains that I've never really grown out of. I'm a bit bookish, to put it kindly, and read/devoured everything I could on the subject as a kid. And of course, everyone knows that mountain railroading is the most interesting kind. Helper engines, bridges, tunnels, the whole nine yards.

<snip>

I didn't know much about Salt Lake. I knew they had the a mountain range called the Wasatch (because the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy class was built in large part to haul trains up the 0.82% grades in Weber and Echo Canyons), which I guess made sense, given that they had hosted the '02 Olympics. So what the heck. I wasn't interested in the job necessarily, but I was a Philosophy major with zero career prospects at the end of my junior year, and spending a summer out in the mountains sounded like a lot of fun.

<snip>
@LarryBoy I, too, am a train lover. In my early youth my dad worked for the now defunct Rock Island Railroad. I loved it when he would take me to watch them hump cars at several yards where he had to go. I had a scrapbook of railroading patches, schedules, match books, etc. that I did as a cub scout project. Like my love of the mountains, my love of trains became a part of my DNA at an early age. When my wife and I moved from Salt Lake to Morgan I was excited to be along a busy UP corridor running less than a mile from my house. I spend quite a bit of time parked by the tracks to eat my lunch and watch the freights roll by. A couple of years ago I got to watch Big Malley steam by... it was awesome. Here's a picture I took about a month ago while having lunch...
DSC00828.jpg
 

Shirt357

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Jan 24, 2017
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I like reading the stories from everyone else...
I was not born into the outdoors nor was it my parents who got me going into it as they divorced when I was young and my mother spent her time working to support to PITA boys :) . I did do scouts when I was younger but while that did let me see some things and places (like my first trip to Yellowstone), it never really stuck nor did it make me feel the way I do now about the outdoors.
I'd say somewhere around 2008 or 2009 I decided I needed to get back healthy again and started hitting the gym ,changing my habits, etc. That got me into doing outdoor events and races where I met others looking to explore life more. Finally when I ran into some personal issues about 5 years ago, I just found that backpacking and hiking filled a void and gave me that break from all the BS. I found a couple of groups that did hiking and found a love of backpacking. Once there I discovered how much I like finding new trails... new sights... etc. I also found how much I enjoy solo trips. I am fine going with others that appreciate the outdoors but I find I need to have alot of solo time as well. I can hear nature better.
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Apr 8, 2015
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I was raised in a barn. Well, I spent a lot of my childhood in ours. As mentioned in another thread, I grew up on a farm. We raised both crops and livestock (cattle and a few horses). Spent tons of time outside, of course, crawling on trees, old farm equipment with sharp edges, in the barn, on hay bales, playing in creeks, pastures, and of course doing whatever farmwork I was able to do as well. Much of the time romping outside was spent with my sister in our younger years. My family usually took yearly trips to the mountain states, usually Wyoming or Montana (had a couple relatives in Montana).

Dad loved fishing and I got into that very early on and that's always been a part of my outdoor experience. I've transitioned mostly to fly fishing though. It wasn't really until my teen years when I started taking off to do hikes on my own. Part of that was hunting, part of it was just to get out and away from the chaos of life.

My freshman year of college, I met a guy who invited me on a 7-day canoe trip in Quetico. I hadn't slept in a tent in years but went along and had a great time. That sparked my interest in camping and backpacking. The next year we did 7 days in the Wind River Range. We hiked together for the next several years, but I've kind of gone off on my own way lately. It's been fun meeting people like Curt and hiking outside my normal high mountain territory.

EDIT: I should add that what really got me interested in high mountain country is when our family accidentally discovered the Beartooth Highway on a vacation. We were heading from Montana toward Yellowstone, and found this "Highway 212" on a map (back when they were paper) that seemed to connect our route well. Boy did we get a surprise when we drove that road! We ended up taking at least a couple vacations back specifically to see that, and I make it a point to at least drive through if at all possible when I'm out that way.
 
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wabenho

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Great idea! Big thanks to everyone for sharing their stories. These have been really cool to read.

My experience is similar to what several others have posted. My love of the outdoors started with my dad. As a kid he would take me camping and fishing in the Uintas and hunting in the mountains of northwestern Utah. We would also spend time visiting many of the National Parks in the West. Yellowstone, Teton and Zion were some of our favorites. The hunting never really stuck with me, but I loved spending time with my dad with no other distractions. He would show me all these little tricks about where to pitch your tent and how to start a fire... that kind of stuff. I hung on every word. Sometimes my grandpa and uncle would come on these trips and it just seemed like such quality time. Good conversation, food tasted better, it was just fun.

As a teenager, I did a few scout trips and learned a little more. In my twenties, my outdoor adventures really expanded. I was lucky enough to have some good friends that enjoyed similar activities. Every chance we got we were out in the backcountry. We would go climbing and canyoneering and found that we needed to backpack to get to many of the good spots. Again, it was just so cool to hang out with good people in beautiful settings.

Now I am married and have a young family. Before kids, my wife and I spent some time adventuring. Now we take the kiddos out as much as we can. Hiking and car camping mostly. It has been fun to see their wonder when they visit a special place or catch a fish. There is something very cool about spending time with these little people who are soooo excited to sleep in a tent. They are a little small for long backpacking treks, so I am now discovering solo trips. This has been a bit of a renaissance for me. I'm finding the solitude and time for reflection very healing. I'm now looking forward to exploring more solo trips and eventually getting my boys more and more involved as they grow.
 

Udink

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I was well into my 20s when I got into the outdoors, mostly because of geocaching. When was growing up, my family wasn't much into the outdoors. We'd go camping occasionally (like, once every year or two), but I rarely left the city limits. After I was married with a couple of kids, I bought a GPS and started geocaching, which quickly led me to going farther and farther from home to find new geocaches.

In early 2005, another geocacher had taken notice of me finding some of the more remote geocaches and invited me on a hunt for the oldest geocache in Utah that hadn't yet been found. Up until that point I'd been pretty anti-social my entire life and only reluctantly accepted his offer to find that oldie. Well, we found it together, and eventually I was introduced to a new bunch of geocachers who shared a love of the outdoors and got me more interested in traveling and hiking in the backcountry. Some of them are now my best friends.

Fast-forward more than a decade, and now I abandon my wife and two kids almost every weekend to get outside into areas where few people go. I rarely go looking for that spot I saw in that amazing photo, but rather to more ordinary areas where there's more to be discovered than the same photo that thousands of others have already taken. I'm interested in the small details--that plain Emery gray potsherd, or the crude petroglyph that most people wouldn't even notice or care about. I enjoy seeking out a connection with the people who were here before the hordes came, and who eked out a living with relatively few resources in the place I now call home.
 

Curt

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Feb 1, 2014
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I've enjoyed reading everyone's stories too. Good idea @Ben .

I owe my dad for getting into backpacking. Even though he had an office job in a fairly big city - Albuquerque - he couldn't stand living in town. He found a parcel of land on the north end of the Sandia Mountains between Albuquerque and Santa Fe that someone had homesteaded under the Homestead Act. I don't know for sure, but I think the area around our parcel was one of the last in the lower 48 to be homesteaded. Anyway, he took the family to live out there. We had few neighbors and none of them had kids my age. There was an actual hippie commune in the neighborhood about a mile away. When I got to my high school years my mother became concerned that I might start going over there so she began giving me regular death threats if she should catch me doing that. The other side of the fence from our place was National Forest property. This is what it looked like from the back door:
File0378.jpg

So, having this in the backyard and living under death threats for going the other direction, what would you do? I guess I owe my dad for providing opportunity, but I owe my mom for providing motivation.

Initially I started exploring in my jr hi years when I got bored. I found a stock tank in the desert and then some springs in the mountains. Each water source I found extended the range I could explore. Eventually I wasn't going because I was bored. I wanted to find out what was farther. I finally reached the limit of what I could do in a day hike and so I bought a backpack and a sleeping bag and began going further.

After I moved to Nebraska I started going to Colorado to hike - mostly around RMNP, or one side or the other of the San Luis valley, though I did a couple trips in the Flattops too. I started thinking about hiking in the desert again and on a lark went to the Needles in Canyonlands. Showed up with a map and no plan. This was out of character for me. I try to plan but just couldn't find any information for Canyonlands. This was before there was very much on the internet and there were absolutely no guidebooks in the 2 hiking stores in eastern Nebraska. Rangers don't like people showing up without a plan. After an interrogation I think they decided that they probably wouldn't have to come rescue me and they set up a nice little circuit through the Needles for me. Searching for information on desert hiking destinations since that trip to the Needles is how I found BCP. I've really been grateful for the help it's provided. Thank you @Nick .
 
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