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Big Bend National Park

First Night Out: Year of the Reader

Meet a Texas reader who chose Big Bend National Park for her inaugural backpacking trip.

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 Becky Tomasek, 41, Houston, TX

THE TRIP Outer Mountain Loop, Big Bend National Park, TX, December 2012. This 30-mile loop in the Chisos winds through canyons, dry creeks, and the Chihuahuan Desert (see page 35). “On the first slope, I began questioning if I could do this—but I discovered my pack’s load lifters, pulled them snug, and everything felt better.”

THE IDEA Tomasek hiked Mt. Whitney in a day and even summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro, but says, “I don’t count having 49 porters set up my camp while I carry a daypack as completing my own backpacking trip.” Tomasek realized she wouldn’t be able to check dream hikes—like Colorado’s 14,092-foot Snowmass Mountain—off her bucket list without developing multiday backpacking skills. She set off during her Christmas break: “No one else was free, so I decided to go by myself—after all, that’s what Cheryl Strayed did.”

NEXT TIME “I went into the wilderness to unplug—so I don’t know why I brought two iPhones, another cell phone, binoculars, and my Kindle. They just added weight.”