All year, we're celebrating first-time backpackers (and veterans who introduce newbies to the trail). Here, meet some readers who already rose to the challenge and learn from their trips. Next: Head out yourself, and send your stories, photos, and tips to email@example.com for a chance to win gear and appear in an upcoming issue of BACKPACKER.
Yolanda Irizarry, New York, NY
The trip Breakneck Pond, Harriman State Park, NY, June 2012. This 3.6-mile out-and-back, from the Lake Sebago boat launch to Breakneck Pond, switchbacks over Cranberry Mountain to a tarn ideal for fishing and spotting white-tailed deer. “The spool snapped off our cheap, Wal-Mart rod, and the deer were rustling in the bushes all night, but the laughs made the trip even better,” she says. The idea Irizarry’s husband, Nate, goes backpacking every year, but the self-described city girl, 31, had never considered joining in—until one night last year. “After some late-night drinking, I was feeling adventurous and suggested that I tag along on his next trip. I had no idea he’d actually take me up on it!” What I learned “Most people who haven’t camped don’t know enough to plan their own trip—so invite a first-timer. You never know who will want to go: My parents joined us for their first trip shortly after mine.” Next time “I’m bringing wine. Nothing better than relaxing and enjoying nature with a nice Pinot. It will also help me fall asleep faster!”