3 Principles of Hiking & Backpacking
#1 Nature Doesn't Care if You Live or Die
Harsh but it's true. Nature doesn't care who we are. All those things that we argue and worry about regarding who or what we are mean nothing to the natural world. And although Nature may be the mother of us all, she can be a mean m-Samuel L. Jackson-r. Nature is perfectly happy to recycle our physical bodies into nutrients for all the other flora and fauna we share this world with. This is a truth overlooked when living in a technologically advanced civilization.
When we go out into nature we are at the mercy of the weather, whatever resources (food, water, building materials, etc.) are in the vicinity, happenstance occurrences like a misplaced foot resulting in an injurious slide down a ravine, etc.
There is no home, apartment, or even car we can find shelter in, what we have in our backpacks or can forage is all we have, and there's no Urgent Care clinic or ER on the trail. Which is why Principle #2 is so critical.
#2 Knowledge is Power
We're the dominant species on this planet to the point where we've started exploring off our home world. This isn't because of our claws, horns, speed, or anything like that. In fact of all the world's many creatures, we're one of the most defenseless, especially for the first few years of life. So how have we achieved such mastery of the natural world? Knowledge.
Our ability to gain knowledge, transfer it, combine knowledge, access knowledge, grow our knowledge, and build upon it has taken us from living in nature to being so very comfortable in our homes that we go looking for nature to live in.
Knowledge is the most important thing we take on our hikes and backpacking adventures. This means knowledge of not just the weather, the trail and its conditions. We need knowledge of our equipment, our capabilities, our hiking partner's abilities, and more. Knowledge makes the difference between a fun day on the trail and a day best forgotten. Knowledge makes the difference between a minor incident and a news story. The nice thing about knowledge is that it's ultra-light! Weighs nothing!
Based on principle #2 is the fact that we are tool-using creatures. Other animals use tools from time to time, but our entire existence is based on making and using tools. This is especially true when we've left the safety and convenience of our homes. When we plan our adventures in nature we combine our almost unconscious awareness of our vulnerability in nature with our knowledge to select the right tools. Knowledge of what a tool will be used for, how it will be used, and maintained is a crucial aspect of our trekking. Whether it's our boots, backpacks, or clothes, we rely on that gear to do what we need it to do in the circumstances our knowledge has indicated. And of course, we take care of our gear so our gear can take care of us.
These three principles are the basis of all my plans in nature and I'm always working to expand my knowledge and take care of my gear.