Yep, backpacking is my jam.
Little did I know I'd be joining long time friends from the Colorado Trail on a 10 day backpacking trip across the Unita Mountains in northern Utah just one month in to van life. Fireworks (Katie) started a group text with Legs (Laura) and I a few weeks before I retired asking if we'd be interested in backpacking the Uinta Highline Trail. We both responded within minutes with a big YES not knowing anything about the trail. Fireworks' boyfriend, The Earl (Billy), joined us on day 3 driving Vanpe Diem from the Vernal Airport to a connecting trailhead. He brought Mexican takeout and local craft beers so it became a party in the parking lot. Most of the 104 mile trail travels through Wilderness Areas and over several mountain passes with a high point of 12,700'. It was tough, but magical. We were caught in a wicked hail storm, trekked through miles of burn sections, crossed sketchy snow covered slopes, splashed in alpine lakes, and were rewarded with surreal mountain valley views.
Side note: During my second year of van life I was fortunate to attend Fireworks and The Earls wedding outside of Sisters, OR. Then later in my third year backpacked with Fireworks and her father, Pat, in CO followed by another trip with just Pat and I. Did I mention I love backpacking?
One huge bonus of van life and having the freedom of time in scoring walk-up permits on otherwise difficult trails to access due to popularity and mostly online reservations. National Parks typically set aside a small number of walk-up permits, which has been a nice option. Another advantage of retirement and freedom to travel is going to places in an ideal time of year and avoiding crowds. Living frugal also allowed me to spend a month backpacking in Scotland and Ireland, April 22'.
Here is a list of backpacking trips since embarking on van life: Uinta Highline Trail (Utah), Hermit Trail - Grand Canyon (AZ), Chain Lakes Trail - White Cloud Wilderness (ID), Timberline Trail - Mt. Hood NF (OR), Wonderland Trail - Mt Rainer NP (WA), Desolation Peak - North Cascades NP (WA), John Muir Wilderness - Sierra Nevada (CA), Joshua Tree NP (CA), Hoh River to Blue Glacier Trail - Olympic NP (OR), Mt Assiniboine Trail - Banff NP (BC Canada), Skyline Trail - Jasper NP (Alberta Canada), West Highland Way (Scotland), Wicklow Way (Ireland), Rawah and Indian Peak Wilderness (CO), plus a hand-full of others Big Bend NP (TX), and the Gila Wilderness (NM). I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have experienced such beauty. It has truly been magical...
Gallery of backpacking trips in various National Parks and Wilderness Areas.