My nephew Lucas and his “pack.”

I’ve been embedded deeply in the backpacking community for a couple of years now. I remember how foreign and unfathomable it seemed to me that people would thru hike for 5 months at a time. For most, those ideas and concepts don’t come up in discussion on a regular basis. What is engrained in most of us from a young age is education, work, marriage, house, and family. If you don’t fit somewhere in that conventional box, you aren’t really sure what you can do because it is rarely discussed. I’ve always known that most of that “conventional” stuff was never a goal of mine, but I wasn’t sure what to do or how to feel about it.

The whole idea of backpacking solo seemed so unreal that I never even imagined it being something that I could do…or even think about (especially before retirement). I never would have started all this, or had the confidence to try something so new, if it hadn’t been for others around me who were backpacking, envisioning trips on long trails, and going out there to make it happen. The more I was exposed to people, just like me, getting out there and backpacking, it became more realistic that I could do it myself. It gave me the confidence I needed to know that it was something I, not only could do, but that many others were also out there taking the less conventional path. I still kick myself that it took me 32 years to find backpacking and feel like I’m just now LIVING, but maybe it was those early years without it that make me value it so much now. It has made me think about today’s youth and how so few of them are exposed to backpacking or hiking growing up.

It seems like children today are less exposed to the outdoors than ever before. My friend (and awesome hiker!) Rockin’ is a teacher who has found a way to bring the trail into the classroom to educate middle and high school students about the PCT and backpacking. Rockin’ is an inspiration for me as a hiker and teacher because she has a way of taking things most people just think about doing and actually does them! She has created a website called….tHInK outsidE: Pacific Crest Trail Resources for Students and Teachers.

To quote Rockin’ (Mrs Rosander), “…a place designed just for students 5th-high school and educators to experience, learn, and teach about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This course is currently in progress and this site is in the beginning stages and will be updated weekly with lesson plans and links as we progress through an 8 week course. Join us for updates on our Blog.”

This site and the lessons are innovative and creative. So far, lessons have focused on an introduction to the PCT, Gear, Navigation, and Survival Skills. The interactive lessons already have students creating their own gear list within a budget, reading and writing trail journals, reading topographic maps, and my personal favorite creating 3D topo maps with dirt and yarn for contour lines. On tHInK outsidE there are also some great photos from the classroom of the lessons that Rockin’ has done thus far with her 5th graders. One of my favorite parts is this one minute trailer Rockin’ created to kick-off the unit on the PCT. Those of you hiking the PCT in the future will especially like this and want to share it with your family and friends. I am excited to say I’m in the final scene and credits at the end. It’s EPIC!
Those reading this on email or a mobile device will need to go to my website to be able to view the video below…

The Pacific Crest Trail from Rockin’ on Vimeo.

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