Campfire of in the wilderness

Hiking & Backpacking Traditions

Traditions. They’re essential to our existence. The definition itself says it, “continued survival” and “a way of living”. If you’re like us, you’ve got tons of backcountry traditions. Some may be formal or some not. I’m sure you can think of many.

I got to thinking about it when I replied to a tweet from REI.

One tradition for us is to get ice cream after every hike. We have our favorite go-to spots. It’s not a question of whether we’ll do it, it is just a question of where. I think it’s become has much a part of any outing as the outing itself.

Who knows how these things get started. For ice cream, I think it was bribery for a hike well done with the kids. It then became part of our scouting tradition. In the end, it’s simply fun.

Some traditions are handed down over generations and are ceremonial.

I know council fires at any Boy Scout camp is filled with tradition. They are the Shakespearian version of the campfire, long, involved and to the outsider maybe complicated. With over 100 scouts singing songs, doing skits, getting awards, oaths and of course a big fire. It’s the culminating point of camp. But each and every part is steeped in tradition.

There are traditions born of need

This past couple of year we have a new tradition brewing. One of our favorite spots to backpack is in the Slide Mountain Wilderness. Whether off-trail or on, if we are in the area of Slide we will plan to have breakfast on the summit before the crowds get there.

This happened after a backpacking trip we took in the Neversink in the Bushwack Range with a finish over Slide. We camped in the high col between Cornell and Slide after bushwacking in from Balsam Cap, Friday, and Dink. It was a hot and tiring July day. We got to our campsite and found no water in the col and we only had about 16 oz. of water between us.

Getting breakfast ready on the "summit" viewing ledge on Slide Mountain
Getting breakfast ready on the “summit” viewing ledge on Slide Mountain

We could have climbed the 750-800 feet to the usually reliable spring on Slide, but we made the choice to simply use the water we had and head to Slide the next day, refill our water and have breakfast on the summit. Spending the time alone sipping coffee and eating breakfast on the highest summit in the Catskills was so enjoyable we have done it several times. It’s “Summit Breakfast”.

What are your backcountry traditions? Would love to hear about them, leave a comment!

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