Backpacking in my home state of Colorado’s high country during the month of May is not a particularly warm or dry endeavor which is why, as I looked at my options for a spring backpacking trip, I decided to head south. I ended up deciding on the Gila Wilderness in southern New Mexico as the destination for a 5 day solo trip I had been wanting to do.
After arriving in the Gila Wilderness, I was eager to satisfy the urge to escape the confinement of civilization which had been weighing me down. On the first morning, I felt strong and put in a hard 12 miles before stopping for lunch and a cool off swim in the West Fork of the Gila River; an activity I would grow very fond of over the next several days. It only took one day until I was laying in my first camp feeling free. I had gone out in an unpopular area and was hiking during the week instead of the more popular weekend days.
Over the next 5 days, I would see countless elk, bright red Gila trout in the clear water, and even a pair of Mexican wolves which are being reintroduced to the area. In addition, I would end up having close encounters with a black bear and a rattlesnake. I ate out of my backpack and drank from the trickling streams. You never realize how much you take for granted until nothing is given to you as so much is in our everyday lives. I was able to remind myself of how comfortable normal life is and I was able to find a new appreciation for the small things that go unnoticed in times of comfort. I reflected on the relationships I have and I the ones that I want to build.
Doing a solo backpacking trip is something that I would recommend to anyone. It can be scary and very uncomfortable but there is something to be said for getting yourself out of your comfort zone. It is a valuable experience that will pay dividends in personal growth and development.