May 12, 2022 — My backpacking inspiration came from childhood, courtesy of my best friend’s dad. He is a big reason why I love the forest so much. How I became a backpacker is, well, going backpacking! The first time was when I was 10 years old for 6 nights deep in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. My friend’s dad did not treat her differently than his son, so, alternating years, one year he took his son backpacking with his best friend, and the next he took his daughter with hers (which luckily was me). I was able to go on two of these life-changing trips, once at age 10 and the next at age 12. We lived in Lewiston, CA, at the foot of the Trinity Alps Wilderness so the woods were already a big love of mine. I was already doing what the Japanese call “forest bathing” and understood by age 9, that it was incredibly life giving to be among the trees in silence. That said, to “be among the trees” for days on end, not returning to a dwelling or civilization even once, is another thing entirely. We never even used a tent (and I still don’t unless it’s raining), just laid our bags on the ground. Back then, there were a lot of fish and he caught our breakfast and dinners most days so our backpacks weren’t ridiculously heavy even though we were out for 6 nights.
Our lives were very simple back then in this incredibly small town, it was an event for the phone to even ring, which only happened once or twice a week, yet Jeannie and I were bowled over by how “cleansed” we felt from being in the woods. It was extremely noticeable and we talked about the feeling a lot with each other, both during and after the trips.
This amazing man lived to be 97 years old and just passed recently. I just saw Jeannie. We are still best friends, even as we haven’t lived near each other since age 13. I am thinking about her dad today with huge gratitude. I believe I paint the way I do in part because he helped connect me, for life, to the deep woods. He is a huge reason why I love the forest and how I became a backpacker.