Hello, followers of Hiking the Trail! My name is Bryan and I am a friend of Adam’s from the days when we both lived in Kansas City. I was asked to write a guest post to discuss my current move into the world of hiking and backpacking. Allow me to start by giving you a little background into who I am and why I am getting involved in backpacking, then I will tell you where I am currently in my journey.
I am 37 (turning 38 this month) and spent most of my life as a very lazy couch potato. In late 2009, I decided it was time for a change and time to start getting healthy. I started running with a Couch To 5k plan and began going to the gym several times a week to lift weights. I very quickly found that I really enjoyed physical activity and began running 5k’s and eventually half marathons, marathons, and ultra marathons. I ran my first race in April of 2010, and since then I have run the following races:
- Sprint Triathlon – 2
- Olympic Triathlon – 2
- Duathlon – 1
- 5k – 18
- 10k – 10
- Half Marathon – 8
- Marathon – 11
- 50k – 6
- Other Distance Races – 21
I’ve also run a number of runs that were not races, but were marathon or 50k distances. While all of this has been tremendously fun for me, I have somewhat tired of trying to speed through all the places I run, especially when I’m running on trails. I’ve developed a strong desire to slow down and enjoy the view instead of just focusing on my pace and mileage. Yes, it’s come time for a change.
I have followed Adam and his adventure since I had the chance to meet him several years ago, and I find myself very envious of the things he sees and does. Over the years, the idea of doing some hiking and backpacking has slowly crept in and the desire to do so has grown. I ran my last 50k in March of this year, and since then I have increasingly lost my desire to run. At the same time, I have seen my desire to hike and camp grow. I began conversing with Adam and a couple other hiker/backpacker friends, which increased my desire to make this change.
I’ve been learning a lot from my friends as we’ve discussed gear and the logistics behind backpacking, but the main thing I’ve learned is that I know nothing. Different types of packs, types of tents and sleeping bags, styles of trekking poles, hiking shoes vs. hiking boots, weight of various types of gear, food to take, etc. There is a lot to learn, and I’m glad I have friends to help me in the process. I’ve gotten some trekking poles (Kelty Upslope 2.0), and I’ve pulled out my tent and sleeping bags that I’ve had in storage. I got the tent and bags for Christmas a couple years ago, but never used them. Every time I thought about going camping, a race would come up and I’d do that instead.
This tent and sleeping bag are too heavy for backpacking (5.62# and 3.41# respectively), but they will be great for car camping at parks for day hikes and for use until I can research and purchase more suitable gear for backpacking trips. I also have a couple day hiking packs, but will also be purchasing a bigger, internal frame pack soon on recommendation from Adam (TETON Sports Hiker 3700), and I have begun purchasing some clothes more suited to hiking that all the mounds of running gear I have.
Another big step is that I have begun planning my first ever camping and hiking trip. Hopefully in the very near future I will be taking a 3 or 4 day weekend to drive about 4 ½ hours from my home in Pensacola, FL to Cheaha State Park in Alabama. There I will spend a few nights camping and doing day hikes. One hike available there is a 20.6 mile out and back that goes to the highest point in Alabama and (I’m told) has some breathtaking views. This type of trip will be a first for me, so I am very excited about it. I have also begun planning a backpacking trip for the fall of 2016. One of my best friends from Kansas City and I are planning to do a 3-4 day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. This is a dream trip that he and I have discussed fleetingly for several years without ever actually trying to do it. Now we are putting this idea into much more certain terms and looking forward to a great adventure.
My hope is that I will be able to continue posting and sharing my adventures and the things I learn with all of you. I find my thoughts more and more drifting off towards time out in nature on the trails. I can’t say for certain where this will take me, but I am excited about continuing to explore the wonderful world we live in. Now get outside and do some hiking! Cheers!
Bryan currently resides from Pensacola, FL. Originally from Kansas City he has run 17 marathons and an ultra marathon as a road and trail runner. He has recently decided that it was time for a change and decided to chase a different dream. He has talked about backpacking for years, so he decided to put running aside for a while and start experiencing the trails in a whole new way. He is excited to join the backpacking community and has great friends and resources to help him . Follow Bryan’s journey on his blog a-runners-journey.blogspot.com