“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” – It’s A Wonderful Life

So far in the Backpacking Project posts, I’ve discussed the pack, the problem I had with getting a pack, boots, my packing list, and more. And while all those things are important, I think most important of all is the fact that I’m going to be doing these trips with friends.

Admittedly these are friends who I’ve met while publicly living what Donald Miller might call a “good story.” I knew none of them before they expressed an interest in taking me into the woods. The cynical might say they simply feel sorry for me. Cynicism is its own reward. The online backpacking community has been amazingly supportive of my taking on this challenge, even while assuring me its not a challenge at all. I disagree with them about how difficult I might find backpacking, but still the support has been wonderful. I’ve learned so much and I expect to learn much more as the Backpacking Project continues.

In particular the three friends leading me on trips deserve mention. First of all is Ian, who is guiding me on the Loyalsock Link Trail in 8 days. This will be a three day trip of 18 miles, with the possibility of an additional
stretch to the area known as the Haystacks. The hike is described at Midatlantic Hikes, and I’ve poached the photo from the hike description at the link, Ian is going to introduce me to hammock camping. I suspect I’ll have a lot to write about on that subject, as well as the wonders of the Loyalsock. I look forward to Ian’s company as well as that of the loyal hound Baxter.

Ten days after the Loyalsock I’m meeting Adam for an overnight on the Appalachian Trail here in PA. Adam is an enthusiastic backpacker with a challenging health problem that would keep many men inside. In other words, he’s the reason for this blog. Adam is going to have me on the ground instead of the air – where Ian is loaning me a hammock for the Loyalsock, I’m borrowing an ultralight tent for the AT trip. Our distance will depend on how the two of us feel and the suitability of a spot for pitching a tent.

Then next month I travel to Virginia for an overnight trip with John, the man who sent me his boots for my backpacking trips Our destination isn’t set yet, nor the dates, but we are aiming for July, and the AT is probably the trail. We would most likely camp at one of the trail shelters.

A Taste For The Woods isn’t just a home for my writing, or a an account of trips in the outdoors, but its also a celebration of friendship. I love the outdoors alone, but I push myself hard and further when I’m with friends, and the world, rich as it is, seems richer still in good company. Regardless of how these trips turn out I expect to have a great time with Ian, Adam, and John. Thank you in advance, friends.