Extreme Fear—and Stoke—About Going Off the Grid for a Day or Two
Guys. I’m about to head off on what will be roughly 60 hours offline on a backpacking trip. I’m freaking out a little. And at the same time, I am so incredibly excited. The last time I was offline for a day was a year and a half ago and was the 24 hours between New Years Eve and New Years Day. Not that impressive, let’s be honest. But this time, we’re heading out on my first ever thru-hiking backpacking trip. (I know, WHAT? How have I not done this before? Answer: I’m more a runner/cyclist than a hiker.) My levels of stoke are high, even if the weather isn’t being cooperative—I know we may have to cut our plan short/append the trail we’re hoping to do, but either way, we’re taking a couple days to actually be offline for it.
What prompted this? A couple of things. First, there’s this Big Scary Goal I have in mind and I’m in the process of collecting ‘beta’ on it. (More on that later.) Then, in March, I was on a bikepacking trip in an area of Arizona that was largely off the grid, but we hit service about every 12 hours… and the one trailhead even had a ranger station with free wifi! It was a good starter exercise for me—just enough service to feel like I wasn’t totally out of touch, but no real opportunity to sit and go through emails. (As a freelancer, this is a terrifying thing.)
It made me realize that I was really craving that space to calm down a little. I’ve been stressing over some writer’s block issues lately and a bit of a lack of motivation in my training. I know a lot of it is that we just need to get away for a couple of days—between the last few years of working with the Aspire Racing team in the fall, our summer racing schedule, and then this spring’s yoga teacher training, we haven’t even had a weekend to just chill in almost a year. And if I think about our last 3 years, I actually can only remember 2 weekends that were strictly about fun and adventure, not racing/working. We haven’t had a honeymoon, and while we travel a ton, I wouldn’t classify any of it as true vacation, since I haven’t taken a day away from writing in ages. So I’m really, really ready for an unplugged couple days to hike and think and hopefully emerge with a lot of cool new ideas.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not a little freaked by it!
To remind myself of perspective—ahem, it’s not really *that* offline—yesterday, I was grabbing some of my dad’s caribeeners to bring along for camp setup, and I realized as I looked at his old aluminum climbing gear that at this point, with the tech we have access to, there’s virtually no chance that I’ll ever be as badass as he was/is. Adventure used to be so much more… adventure-y! (But if anyone else has ever tried an old school cycling chamois with an actual leather chamois, you know as well as I do that to attempt to recreate the magic of days gone by is just kind of stupid.)
I mean, yes, there’s no service in the park. However… We’re on a marked trail, I have a Garmin with a GPX file loaded, and I’ll have my phone for photos and for possibly getting reception depending on where we are. (Unlikely, but still possible.) Compare that to the adventures my dad went on, without those safety nets and without the ultra-light gear that I’m bringing, and it’s enough to make me cringe a little.
That said, don’t ask me to give up my tent. It’s really, really nice.
OK. That’s my thoughts on being offline. A whole lot of nervous uncertainty, but a really hopeful vibe overall. Now, I have some more packing to do…
Anyway, I’m posting this ahead of us hitting the road, so if anyone has any last minute backpacking advice I need to know, drop it in the comments—and wish me luck!
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