While I will say every backpacking trip I’ve been on has been enjoyable, not every one was enjoyable throughout. There are times that just suck. Here are the top 10 that I’ve experienced.
10) Hiking in the pouring rain. A little rain isn’t so bad. It’s part of the game. But a hard, relentless rain makes a mess of everything including the trails.
9) Excessive heat. There are reasons I hike much more in the spring, fall and winter. They are heat, bugs and poison ivy. Save the summer for higher elevation hikes where the temperature is still moderate.
8) Trash. Hiking in the backcountry can make you forget about the rat race for a while, but not when there are reminders of it everywhere. I’ve been to a couple backcountry campsites where navigating the unburied toilet paper was like navigating a mine field.
7) Falling in the river. It’s bad enough having to stop to dry out all your gear, but tumbling in a river is also a good way to get injured. Don’t step onto untested rocks. Don’t cross a river you’re unsure of.
6) Setting up/tearing down camp in the pouring rain. I noticed that several peeves involved me getting wet, so I’ve combined these two. It’s hard to keep things dry when you have to set up in a hard rain. It’s a bad way to start off so try to wait it out if possible. As for tearing down, who wants to carry around soaking wet stuff. Same as above, though not as big of a problem if it’s your last day.
5) Bugs. Nothing is more annoying than relentless mosquitos or biting flies. A head net and long sleeves can seem like a god send.
4) Being lost. I’ve gotten off trail multiple times when I hadn’t intended to. It gives you a little uneasy feeling even when you still know where you generally are, as in my case. This is especially true when you run into unexpected terrain. I imagine being really lost would jump to number 1.
3) Fighting with trail mates. You’re all there to have a good experience, but heat, stress and fatigue can make tempers flare. Choose your trail mates wisely.
2) Blisters. One person’s blisters can bring a whole crew to a halt. Prior to going backpacking, make sure everyone’s boots have been tested on the trail, with a heavy pack, in terrain similar to that of your trip. Know how to treat them so you can keep moving. Treat them at the earliest hint of a hot spot.
1) Sickness/Injuries. Hiking with a heavy pack is hard enough especially if you are going up a mountain or in challenging terrain. It’s hard to have a good time if you don’t feel good. A nagging injury such as a twisted ankle or knee pain doesn’t help, nor does a fever or diarrhea. Your mommy is not here to take care of you either.
Honorable Mention) Dying and/or grizzly bear attack. This one goes without saying, but since it’s never happened to me and I since I plan to live forever, it did not make my top ten.
This are my top ten. Post a comment or send an email and let me know what made your list that wasn’t on mine.