Whenever I meet someone who shares their love for nature or hiking as I do, my eyes open up wide. There is nothing like sharing stories from my backpacking experience with others who have the same fascination for the outdoors. However, when I meet some one who want to experience the outdoors, backpacking and all, that’s when I really get excited and say “let’s go”. Especially when they have never done it before. It’s almost as good as taking some to Wrigley Field for the first time.

This week I had to opportunity to take a 17 year old who came up to me a few weeks ago and said, “I want to hike the Appalachian Trail”. “Oh really”?. Ryan had only done some day hikes prior. After some reality sunk in, (much of that was how much gear, and $$$ he would need to successfully complete a thru-hike), we decided to hit the trail, and test out some gear, and methods.

He had his Spring Break this week, so we hit the River to River trail in Southern Illinois. How refreshing it was see a young 17 year old interested in the outdoors and soak it all up. He didn’t want to booze it up on Spring Break, no, he wanted to hike and camp. He didn’t want to stay home and play Wii, he wanted to sleep under the stars on a cliff.

He didn’t have much gear, and had some huge hiking boots. Since I have two of everything. I was able to lend him everything he needed. We geared up, and headed out. On his first backpacking trip, He did great. He is a natural.

It gave me a real sense of pride to share what I know with a 17 year old. Sharing “leave no trace”, and backcountry ethics, was a real rewarding experience for me. I think we should all share what we love the most with others.

He is now planning to get out there ASAP. Good for him.


Feel free to contact me at any time. Started Backpacking in 2003 and have never looked back. My all time favorite hike was last April when I hiked the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon. No trails, no signs, just wilderness and a 3,000 foot steep drop into the Canyon. I ran out of water my third day. Why? There was no water in the Canyon. You can check out my video on the "backpacker.tv" page. Thanks for dropping by.

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1 comment

  • Great story, I am very encouraged when I hear about young people getting stoked about being outdoors. We need lots more people like Ryan (and yourself) to help keep the precious outdoors clean and preserved for future generations.