Lessons From Backpacking
Living in British Columbia means incredibly easy access to the mountains and the coast. It’s crazy that more people don’t take advantage of it. People prefer to spend their weekends at home catching up on shows, rather than being outside. And living in this society that puts so much emphasis on comfort, we’ve forgotten the joy of being in nature. It’s easy to see why there’s such a huge disconnect between us and our planet. How can the forests, mountains, and ocean mean anything to someone who hasn’t put time and effort into learning to love them? How can we expect people to protect a coast they don’t feel is theirs to protect?
I grew up in a very forward-thinking environment, surrounded by teachers and peers who were passionate about issues like climate change and gender equality. I learned to recycle and compost, was taught the importance of sustainability. But until a few years ago I never took it further than the expected. I didn’t feel particularly strongly about these issues because I hadn’t built a real connection with the planet I was being told to sustain.
Everything changed with my first backpacking trip. During a school trip a group of seven students (myself included) and two guides hiked for three days, carrying everything we needed on our backs. And it was then, hiking through pouring rain and devouring pitas and hummus, that my love for mountains arose. It was like the kid in Up said: “The wilderness isn’t quite what I expected. It’s wild”. Since then BC’s mountains have become a second home to me. I’ve backpacked countless of the local mountains and am indescribably excited to tackle the PCT.
This newfound relationship with nature sparked a compulsion to protect the mountains, coast, and the beautiful blue planet we all call home. I educated myself on our impacts on the environment as individuals. I gave up animal products, cut down on food packaging and water usage, tried to live by Leave No Trace both on and off the trail. Sustainability took on a new meaning, because it felt personal. People always say to leave the trail or campsite better than when you arrived, and I think the same goes for the environment. This planet has given me so much, and when I leave, I don’t want the footprint I leave behind to be a fat carbon one.
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