Why Everyone Should Have A Packed Bag Ready To Go

The wilderness provides the perfect release when the stress of life starts to pile on.

(Jefferson Park, August 2015)

As a student at Oregon State University, I can get overwhelmed at times by being on campus with nearly 28,000 other students. For example, last spring I found myself sitting at my desk at 2 a.m. in the middle of finals week. As I sat there, trying to focus, I realized how long it had been since my last backpacking trip. I needed to fix that. I needed an escape.

So, I gathered up my gear and loaded my pack. The morning after my last final, I woke up at 5 a.m. and headed off toward Jefferson Park in the Oregon Cascades. The first of many solo backpacking trips, I chose Jefferson Park because of its proximity to my home, and because of its incredible scenery. I had prepared for some late spring snow, but was not expecting over 2 feet of snow! When I set up camp at Russel Lake I was surprised to find that it was still mostly frozen over in the middle of June! 

(Russel Lake, Jefferson Park - June 2016)

A lot of my friends peg me as a "mountain man hermit" type of guy, but it doesn't bother me. Most of my weekends are indeed filled with exploring new places and trying desperately to get above that pesky Willamette Valley fog layer.

This is nothing new – I've always had a strong desire to experience life to the fullest. There is just something in me that comes alive when I'm in the mountains, and especially when I backpack alone. Going off into the wilderness provides a peace that you just can't attain in your day-to-day life.

For me, the outdoors provide a release. As a college student, my life is filled with projects, deadlines, and the pressure to consistently perform at a high level. When I step onto the trail, I can feel the stress and the pressure lift off my shoulders, evaporating into the fresh mountain air.

Even more than the gorgeous views, I love the silence. 

(Sparks Lake, August 2016)

I think in our day and age, we are constantly looking for distractions. We simply must have things to hold our attention and take up our time. It seems like we are uncomfortable with silence; we are uncomfortable being alone with our own thoughts.

These are among the many reasons why I believe that everyone should have a packed bag ready to go. When life gets hectic and you just need a release, grab your bag, jump in your car, and head out to your favorite spot. Sort through the reasons why your life is hectic and stressful. Take out those things that don’t really matter, and come at life from a new angle.  

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” --Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer

(Sparks Lake, June 2016)

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!