6 Stages of First-time Backpacking

Backpacker facing the mountain in the outdoors

Never undertook backpacking? These are the stages you will experience when you finally decide to try it for the first time.


“This Isn’t Too Bad”

You’re thinking, “this isn’t too bad,” feeling confident in your ability to at least handle the next several miles.

“I’m Breathing Heavier Than Usual”

After walking for a few miles, and perhaps encountering a few steep hills, you notice that you’re inhaling deeper with more intensity. In order to stabilize your breathing frequency, you try walking slower and perform other steps to decrease your heart beat.

“That Hill Was Rougher Than Normal”

The short hill which normally takes little effort suddenly requires more force and sweat to cross. Your feel as if you’re moving forward in inches instead of feet. As other hikers pass you by, there’s a realization that your hiking speed is pretty much non-existent.

“Oh Shit, Another Hill!”

You sigh as you approach another steep hill. After taking a rest and starting on the trek upwards, you spot another hill to overcome. Suddenly you’re questioning your backpacking decision.

“Can’t Breathe! Emergency! Emergency! Emergency!”

The backpack feels like choking hands. Your heart is thumping furiously, as if it’s going to burst from your chest. The slouching increases as you search for ways to breathe normally.

“Downhill Feels Soooooo Good”

You start appreciating flat grounds and hill declines. It’s similar to the sensation of a masseuse rubbing your legs.

“Phew! It’s Over. I Feel Great.”

You reach the trailhead. Throwing the pack off your back and walking around freely. Your chest feels loose and breathing returns to normal. Bands of sweat start drying on your face. Perhaps you start stretching out. But you come to the realization that next time will be better.


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