Spending an extended period of time in the backcountry can seem challenging even to the most experienced of wilderness travelers, but you can learn a lot of humorous and valuable lessons when you're removed from civilization for a long time.
Here are few reasons why you should go into the wild for more time than you think.
You can further delay taking a shower.
For those of you who hate showering, time in the backcountry is a gift. The amount of water you save will outweigh how much you smell.
But that first shower will feel darn good.
You will smell a couple of days or even weeks riper and the water will be a heck of a lot browner, but it will be oh-so-satisfying. A shower will actually feel like a luxurious experience, not just a chore.
You get comfortable talking about the uncomfortable.
Feeling awkward talking about your bodily functions with your tent or trip mates? Give it a few weeks and you won’t even hesitate. Don’t know how to address the group member who isn’t pulling their weight? You will quickly learn to address and manage conflict and to not let the problem linger.
Cuddle puddles will become a thing.
Don’t want to touch the strangers sleeping next to you? You should go for the middle spot anyway—in a few weeks, you will be racing your tent mates to mark that territory. Nobody wants to have the cold tent wall next to them.
You have more nights with the snorer of your group.
This might not sound like a situation that will lead to learning a valuable lesson, but you will come back to the frontcountry with a better appreciation for sleeping in silence. Also, try not to give the snorers too hard of a time. Build them a pillow and tell them it’s okay. Now that is good expedition behavior.
You have time to redeem your backcountry cooking fails.
You will have a few cooking mishaps. You will learn that polenta actually has to be boiled and that dehydrated black beans actually have to be soaked all day. But, you will finally nail those tricky meals and crunchy beans will be a faded memory.
After an extended backcountry trip, you might feel like a different person and many will ask how you think your time in the wilderness has changed you.
Here's something to consider: you are still the same person, but you were given the chance to develop qualities that already existed inside you. You learned how to channel them so that you could be a better "you." You are more confident in your capabilities as a leader, student, and friend. And, you are mentally tougher than you ever thought possible.
Shelby is currently taking a gap year-and-a-half. After completing her Fall Semester in Patagonia, she caught the NOLS bug and became the 2016 Fall PR and Marketing intern at our world headquarters in Lander, Wyoming (she's a Wilderness First Aid grad, too!).