You know the feeling. That itch to get outdoors and soak up the sunshine. Whether it was during family camping trips, joining an outdoors club in college or dating a nature aficionado, all hikers can remember when they first discovered the love of being out on the trail. Believe it or not, my inspiration to begin hiking did not start in the great state New Jersey. I caught the bug far away in the mountains of Tibet.
A year ago, in the spring of 2011, I found myself thrust into my first backpacking journey. My professor in China led us on mid-semester trip through the Tibetan Autonomous Region. He warned us that it would not be a tourist trip and gave us a long list of necessary items. So, I bought all the gear and I was that person: the novice who buys all the gear before actually trying out the activity. I didn’t know why I would need a pocket knife, but I had one just in case.
After realizing I could survive without proper toilets (truly a shock) and could hike mountains without spraining my ankle, I came to enjoy nature and the lands untouched by humans. There was something too about the camaraderie that formed on that trip, that you couldn’t find in another setting.
After I returned to the states, I took a good hard look at the hiking boots I was required to buy for this one trip. The outdoor adventures must continue–even in New Jersey, the unlikeliest of all places.