Big knife. Too much food. Out of shape. No map. My first backpacking trip

An account of my first backpacking trip in 1996. I did not know what I was doing to say the least! But, everyone has to start somewhere. It was not a lightweight bapcking trip to say the least! 🙂


With me on that first trip was my buddy Tim. We both went to the same Catholic elementary school, worked in the same hospital, and (along with our other buddy Leo) probably spent enough to money on beers and wings in “Dave’s Bar and Grill” to pay for the addition they put up shortly after I moved to Colorado. I do doubt Tim’s sanity since he left a lovely, intelligent, attractive girlfriend to join me for the last stretch of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. His sanity was further questioned four years later when he left his  lovely, intelligent, attractive WIFE to join me for the last stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.

This letter was published in the September 2001 issue of Backpacker Magazine.

A Thru-Hiker is Born.

Years ago, my friend Tim and I started our summer with a trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I had done dayhikes and camping while in the Boyscouts, but no backpacking. I was 25 pounds overweight, and my gear included a Rambo-sized knife, a flashlight with a big 6-volt battery, and enough canned goods to stock a 7-Eleven. But we planned to only hike 12 miles, so how difficult could that be?

The first day, I was out of breath as we hiked, but enjoyed the sunshine and the fantastic views-until we realized we’d forgotten the map. Tim said he remembered the way, so not to worry. Around 6 PM, we saw the same campsite we had used the previous night. We’d hiked in a 12-mile circle! We set up the tent, didn’t bother to eat dinner, and collapsed in our sleeping bags.

Skip ahead two years to a sunny August day. I’m on the summit of Kathadin, Maine, a big smile on my face because I had just complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. On that first, mistake-prone, trip, I got lost, carried too much, and in the end enjoyed myself thoroughly. Out of the adventure came a love for backpacking.


Carter Moriahs

The views from my first day on my first backpackpacking trip. How could I not fall in love with backpacking?

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13 years ago

Still reme,ber like it was yesterday ! A bad day hiking still better then a good dy at work !

13 years ago

Mags….at 62 yrs of age and a lover of backpacking for 50 yrs. Maybe it would actually be healthier for me to go lighter. I have always been a comfort camper/backpacker….but I’m training for CDT in May and the benefits might be great enough to help me get to Canada a lot less worn out….. thanks Rusty