Whether you’re stressed out of your mind or just looking for a new adventure, here are the reasons why you should take a weekend off and head into the woods.
The cost of backpacking
One of the biggest struggles of a travel fiend is the expense that adds up with the necessity of flights, hotels and eating out. So, forget all that and go backpacking instead! You won’t have to worry about pricey hotels — just pitch a tent and pack some food prior. The hardest part is prepping everything you’ll need, but what better way to procrastinate than planning a trip! You may have to get a permit depending on where you decide to set up camp, but permits are usually no more than $30 a night.
The therapeutic qualities of camping
Ditching the bustling city streets of Berkeley and heading out into nature can be extremely stress-relieving. Just picture yourself ditching the library and lying under a tree with no technology in sight. You get to unplug from the everyday responsibilities of devices and just chill with the mountains. It really changes your outlook on life when everything you need to survive as a human can fit in your backpack and be carried with you through the woods. Even if you think that concrete is your safe place, like I did, just give backpacking a shot and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
The feeling of accomplishment
At school, you may work yourself to death for mediocre results, but backpacking will never leave you with that heavy feeling. Instead, you feel like you’re conquering the world. The accomplishment of surviving without the fallback of civilization puts the stress of school into perspective. Maybe you won’t graduate with honors, but if there was an apocalypse, guess who can handle it? You! Looking out over a mountain you hiked up and sleeping in a tent you pitched is truly so rewarding.
The easy accessibility from the Bay
California is home to many beautiful state parks, a few which are easily accessible from the Berkeley area. Skip the overpacked and overpriced drive to Yosemite and look into checking out Mount Diablo and other nearby locations. You don’t even have to have a car: simply take the BART to Walnut Creek and start walking. There’s no hitchhiking or car needed, and it’s a cheap and fun vacation. You even get an extra workout in there — hello, endorphins!
Learning a new life skill before graduating
Backpacking is genuinely a life skill that teaches you the steps of survival in any situation. The qualifications of completing a successful backpacking trip include — and are not limited too —not starving to death or getting eaten alive by a mountain lion. If you conquered this challenge, then you learned how to survive in the wild, and that’s pretty dope! You have to plan your food, navigate without technology, house yourself, commit to a plan, and budget time and money. Adulthood is going to be a cakewalk after this.
Now that you know the reasons why you should dip out to the woods, you should go the next time your schedule allows for it! Don’t worry if the concept of backpacking sounds overwhelming, as there are plenty of clubs on campus that will help you figure it out. UC Berkeley’s Cal Hiking and Outdoors Society club even lets you rent equipment free of charge. Just know that you’ve got this!