How to do everything wrong on your first solo backpacking trip

Last weekend I ventured into the woods alone for the first time. I did a lot of things right, but I did enough things wrong to suffer more than I enjoyed. This post records my mistakes so I can do better next time.

What went well

What to improve

Pacing. Although I was alone, there was one big constraint on my pacing: bugs. Every time I stopped to rest, within a few minutes little flying bugs tried to crawl into my ears and all over me. Eventually I was tired enough to mostly ignore this, but it made it hard to really rest or slow down. One time, I even sat directly on an ant colony. Swarms of them were crawling all over my legs before I knew what had happened. I brushed them off and ran away as fast as I could manage. Near the streams at the lower elevations the bugs almost disappeared, so I was able to rest much more. At the first stream I hit, I read my book for an hour. Next time I’ll try bug spray, seek a colder climate, or try to live with the bugs.

Software engineer, tinkerer, aspiring mad scientist

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