Walking Distance #01 | Getting Started ft. Dr. Alan Carpenter & Heather Balogh Rochfort

The Trek is thrilled to introduce, Walking Distance, a brand new podcast presented by The Trek.  Created by “Blissful Hiker,” aka Alison Young, every other week, we invite experts to help us explore a unique subject in the wonderful world that is backpacking. Walking Distance is for day hikers looking to break into the world of backpacking as well as more experienced trekkers looking to level up their knowledge and seek inspiration. From multi-month treks to thirty mile loops, from the high alpine to the desert valley, from spiritual pilgrimages to long weekend getaways, this podcast will serve as a deep dive on why we believe that everything truly is within….Walking Distance.

In the first episode, we explore the subject of getting started- how someone transitions from day hiking into backpacking. We are joined by Dr. Alan Carpenter and Heather Balogh Rochfort. Carpenter is the author of Choose Better, Live Better, and a veteran long distance hiker and cyclist. Carpenter has over 11,000 trail miles logged, most of them hiked in his 60s, and now 70s. He’s completed the John Muir trail and the Colorado trail twice, as well as the PCT, AT, and Continental Divide trail. Heather Balogh Rochfort is the author of Backpacking 101 and the blog Just a Colorado Gal. Balogh Rochfort spent the first 20 years of her life as a ballerina, and discovered her love of the outdoors as a college student at the University of Colorado- Boulder.

Blissful Hiker covers how to transition from day hiker to backpacker, from preparing mentally and physically, learning about gear and building camaraderie, and how to get over beginners’ perfectionism. 

apple podcasts backpacker radio


Download this episode.

Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com

00:01:30 – Welcome to Walking Distance!

Interview with Dr. Alan Carpenter

03:30 – Carpenter’s introduction to backpacking and hiking was his boy scout troop as a child.

05:30 – What inspired you to start your first solo backpacking trip on the John Muir trail?

07:25 – As a beginner backpacker, how did you find out what gear worked for you?

09:25 – Another one of the struggles of beginning backpacking is bolstering confidence. How did you mentally prepare?

11:30 – You’ve written a book about healthy living. Many beginning backpackers are concerned about being in shape in order to hike. What’s your opinion on that, and did you have a routine when you were beginning?

12:57 – A lot of fears about backpacking become our reasons for backpacking. Did you have discoveries about how backpacking adds to your life?

15:10 – There’s sometimes a sense of perfectionism when we’re starting out. Any thoughts on getting information to beginners or what they need to know?

Interview with Heather Balogh Rochfort

20:00 – Heather Balogh Rochfort literally wrote the book on beginner backpacking!

20:15 – Heather’s background was as a ballerina dancer, until she went to college in Colorado and went on her first backpacking trip.

21:40 – How do I know what I really need to bring?

24:00 – Is there a place where you can borrow or rent gear cheaply? How do you finance your gear while starting out?

25:50 – There’s a feeling that you have to have it totally dialed in, even for veteran backpackers. But try to enjoy the process of figuring out backpacking rather than focusing on making sure your first trip goes perfectly. 

27:00 – What should I do to keep safe as a woman backpacking solo? And what should I say to people telling me that I shouldn’t go?

28:10 – Anyone starting out should learn how to use a map and compass, and bring them on the trail.

30:00 – It matters where you choose to go on your first trip, and how far you go.

Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes.


About Dr. Alan Carpenter

Backpacker Radio w/ Dr. Alan Carpenter

Dr. Alan Carpenter’s notes

Just a Colorado Gal: Heather Balogh Rochfort

Backpacking 101 by Heather Balogh Rochfort

About Alison Young

Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast The Pee Rag she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.

Follow The Trek on Instagram.

Follow The Trek on YouTube.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?