We All Start Somewhere: Beginner Backpacking Stories from Experienced Backpackers

A Mountain Pass Means “to Bypass the Mountains,” Right?

Beginner Backpacking Stories from Experienced Backpackers

I grew up in the Northeast, and we didn’t have a term for “mountain passes.” To me, a pass meant skipping something… passing by it. After college, I went to work in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and invited by dad and brother out for a visit for which I carefully(?) planned a two-day backpacking trip to help them take in the splendor of the Wild West. I had never been out on an overnight before, my pack weighed almost 40 pounds, and my dad and brother were not acclimated to the elevation. There was a massive mountain in our region called Electric Peak, and I chose a route nearby that included “Electric Pass,” thinking it meant “bypassing Electric Peak.” What it actually meant was climbing thousands of feet over the pass (Mountain pass definition: A navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge) with lovely views of the peak as we sweated and climbed and cursed my lack of knowledge and research. I definitely cried. We made it, but it was a hell of a surprise as we started to climb… and climb… and climb. The lesson? Learn the local terminology. Read a map. Ask people who know more than you. Lighten your pack.
-Honey Badger, Appalachian Trail

From Kmart to Trailhead

“First time camping was with a group of three other friends in the Sawtooths in Idaho. Brand new tent in the box from Kmart and turns out there was no rainfly. Also, the box said four-person tent that turned out to be a two-person. Super miserable experience cooped up in the tent in the rain so I went and slept under the branches and stayed mostly dry but cold.
–Ryan Unger, SHR (x2) AT, PCT, JMT
Beginner Backpacking Stories from Experienced Backpackers

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