Hiking & Backpacking Traditions That We Love

Campfire of in the wilderness
Average read time 2 min

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.

Ice cream or burgers after a hike

One tradition for us is to get ice cream or burgers after every hike. We have our favorite go-to spots or will hunt for new ones. It’s not a question of whether we’ll do it; it is just a question of where. I think it’s become as 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 adult hiking tradition. In the end, it’s simply fun and a way to connect in the front country and reflect on the fun we had!

Some traditions are handed down over generations and are ceremonial.

I know council fires at any Boy Scout camp are filled with tradition. They are the Shakespearian version of the campfire, long, involved, and to the outsider, may be 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 every part is steeped in tradition.

There are traditions born of need

This past couple of years, 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.

The breakfast tradition happened during 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
Challenged Hikers | copyright Challenged Hiking 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?

We’re sure you have some. Could it be having your young hiker bring their favorite stuffed bear (my daughter)? Is it hiking or backpacking with the cousins every summer? It might be staying at some retro motel like the love of my life, and I do? One cool one is in Tupper Lake with throwback cabins or here in the Catskills. Whatever you do, make it count; your people will love you for it!

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