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Hello! Backpacking Newbie Here...

Hi! 

@REI-JenK very kindly welcomed me here today and suggested I introduce myself here, so here I am!

I'm pretty new to outdoor activities - I've been more an indoors person all my life, with only occasional forays into the outdoors. In 2018, I decided to change that.

I'm 61, an architect who lives near Muncie, Indiana, married almost 40 years to a wonderful woman who's a registered nurse. I work for the Indiana State Department of Health where I review plans for construction projects in facilities we regulate. It's a cube-bound, mouse-pushing desk job, that, while not very stressful, takes a lot of time. My typical workday is 7:30 - 5:00, sometimes later, with almost 1 1/2 hours of commuting each way on top of that. It should go without saying I don't get a lot of exercise apart from the half-mile walk to and from my car and taking the steps to my fourth-floor office. In 2008 and 2013, I'd had minor heart events that were fixed with balloon angioplasties and stents, but between 2010 and 2013, I lost over 100 pounds and am healthier now than I've been in decades.

A couple of years ago, my best friend from my high school years was telling me about his many hiking and climbing trips, including a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. It occurred to me that I've flown over it many times, but had never SEEN it, and wouldn't a hike IN IT be the best way to see it?

So in that conversation, it was decided - we'd plan and execute a repeat of Tom's trip, taking the South Kaibab Trail, overnighting at Bright Angel and Cottonwood, and hiking out the North Kaibab Trail.

In late 2018 I started taking walks with increasingly heavy loads in a souvenir day pack from our favorite cruise line. I then joined REI Coop and started acquiring gear and training in earnest, learning how to use and properly wear the gear. Tom assured me all the while I would do fine, as long as I got used to carrying the pack and walking long distances.

Our plan had been for September of 2019 but the permit lottery didn't break our way. Our Plan B was backcountry hiking and camping in Capitol Reef NP, where we hiked 16 miles into and in the Lower Muley Twist Canyon, spending one night in that beautifully lonely, quiet, narrow canyon before hiking out, refilling our water and getting another permit at the Visitor Center, before hiking another 3 miles into a great little canyon near Chimney Rock. 

I won't deny it - it was a LOT harder than I had anticipated. We started our hike by taking the Post Cutoff, which is a shortcut into the Lower Muley, but involved a 700-foot climb up slickrock that had little by way of a "trail" about it, including some scrambling and lots of "where do you think I should put my feet, Tom?" discussions. 

But I did it, we had a great time, saw incredible rock formations and night skies I'd NEVER seen before, experienced incredible silence, where even the airplanes flying overhead couldn't be heard.

Tom assured me I did well, and that the Grand Canyon would be a piece of cake by comparison.

And now, we have a permit in hand for early June of this year to do just the hike we'd plan. With two nights and three days, 30-some miles of backcountry hiking (and well over a couple hundred of hiking in parks closer to home), and all the great gear and advice I've gotten from REI, I feel ready and confident of a great trip. But I'm always looking for more feedback, more ideas and tips, and I'm here to learn more!

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Re: Hello! Backpacking Newbie Here...

@MDarrall Welcome!

Your story is inspirational, thank you for sharing and congratulations on completing your hike at Capitol Reef National Park! We had a thread started about hiking the Grand Canyon in January, you might be able to weigh in with some expertise there. 

We're glad you're here!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Hello! Backpacking Newbie Here...

All younger must need to read this post. It will be inspirational for all. Thanks and wish you a happy journey @MDarrall

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