Many are gearing up for school, but for me it’s time to pull the backpacking equipment out. Time to pack and go. Yes, we’ll soon be heading west—northwest Nebraska, that is—to do a little hiking, camping, and touring the historical area.
Backpacking is a crazy activity this fifty-something Nebraska woman calls fun. Up until 2007, carrying all the gear on my back was not something I did; I left that to my husband and our Boy Scouts sons.
Yet, right from the beginning of our marriage, sleeping in the great outdoors was a part of building our marriage and family. We spent a few nights of our honeymoon in a tent, then traveled the 1500 miles to Alaska setting up/taking down the canvas tent we bought with our first tax refund. After years of tent camping, we fixed up a topper for the pickup, and later still, purchased pop-up campers. When the kids were grown, our empty nest reverted to tent camping. However, backpacking takes it to the next level.
It’s a physical and mental challenge. We walk 6-8 hours a day dealing with the weather, the insects, and the terrain. It’s beautiful. It’s boring. Muscles I forgot I had hurt, my knees get scraped, and my feet develop blisters. Then, I sleep on a 1-inch air mattress pad in a tent or 3-walled shelter on a wooden bunk.
So, why do I do it? Why do I call it fun? Answer: As we walk up and down the mountains, swatting away flies, we talk. We listen. It is the ultimate quality time together.
Of course, we have found simpler less strenuous activities throughout our 36-year marriage to provide quality time for good communication. Sometimes we take long drives or sit in the park, but in this day and age, removing distractions is the challenge. In the mountains or hills, cell service is rare. Out on the trail, neither of us has other things to do or places to go. Bottom line, we have lots of time to talk, listen, or just think privately.
So, I’m gearing up for another crazy long walk with my wonderful husband, investing in our marriage relationship.
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB