Backpacking, Camping, and Unplugging

Pacific Northwest Hiking in June 2016

This past weekend Ryan and I packed our camping gear into our two Deuter backpacks, laced up our hiking boots, wrangled the puggle, and headed out for a one-night backpacking trip. Our previous car camping trip over Memorial Day weekend had been a washout due to cold temperatures and rain, but this weekend was hot and sunny – the perfect weather for escaping into the mountains.

Backpacking, Camping, and Unplugging

Since this is Seattle and temperatures over 80 degrees send people into a panicked frenzy (it does the same thing to me), we weren’t the only ones who decided to camp in the mountains to escape the heat. We arrived at the top of the trail at 1 PM and claimed one of the last campsites.

As I mentioned on Monday, backpacking proved to be a physical challenge for me. My endurance is fairly intact after my time off from running and hiking due to my sprained foot, but it was bearing the weight of my ~20 pound pack over those 5 miles and 1000 feet elevation gain that was hard for me. Granted, my pack was poorly adjusted (fixing that made a world of difference on the second day, but then again going downhill is always easier), but regardless, backpacking is physically and mentally hard.

Hard, but rewarding – just like long distance running. Once we arrived at Goat Lake, one of our favorite hikes in the Cascades, I forgot about how heavy my pack was and just how hard the hike up was and enjoyed the time outside.

We ate our lunch of whole wheat peanut butter sandwiches by the lake before setting up our campsite. Charlie loves our tent – he happily hangs out in it even when being outside is an option. Honestly, our campsite was a comfortable set-up: we had sleeping pads and soft sleeping bags in our tent, foam mats for sitting outside, and our little JetBoil camp stove for cooking and making coffee and tea. Nothing fancy, but fancy isn’t the point of backpacking and camping.

Backpacking, Camping, and Unplugging

What mattered most: we were able to disconnect from work and just be present, enjoy nature, and relax with each other. Blogging, coaching, and running all are great things, but family always comes first.

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to unplug and completely disconnect. I’m constantly checking emails, working on training plans for my athletes, catching up on social media, or blogging. My entire job is virtual, after all, since all the coaching I do is done over the mediums of email, Google Sheets, and phone. Ryan works hard on his line of outdoor recreation gear when he’s not at his engineering job, which requires a lot of time online especially since he sells through Amazon.

One of our favorite parts about camping the past couple weeks is that it literally forces us to disconnect. There’s no cell service or wifi in the mountains.

Backpacking, Camping, and Unplugging

I noticed that I habitually reached for my phone and would open my email without thinking, even if I had only grabbed my phone to check the time. Unplugging is more challenging than any run, hike, or other sport because of how technology alters our habits. Habits are powerful: they’re what get us out the door to run even when we lack motivation, they’re what structure our daily routines, and they’re how we practice healthy vs. unhealthy lifestyles.

Of course, I didn’t want to check my email, and once I caught myself subconsciously trying to, I tossed my phone into the tent and only carried it around for photos.

Backpacking, Camping, and Unplugging

Instead of being glued to our phones and laptops while watching reruns on Netflix, Ryan, Charlie, and I explored around the lake, lounged under the shade of trees in our campsite, cooked and enjoyed our meals, and read. Minus a brief panic on my part about bears (I asked Ryan probably ten times if bears were going to eat us in our sleep), we enjoyed a completely relaxing and rejuvenating 24 hours in the wilderness – no screens involved, just trees.

How often do you unplug and completely disconnect from technology?
How do you deal with a heat wave?
Be honest: are you a workaholic? Do you have a time where you shut down everything and stop working?

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33 Responses

  1. Its crazy how much technology has formed our habits. I definitely find it tough to unplug and I am constantly checking my email. I am one of those people that needs to have 0 unread emails, so every time look at my phone I need to go through them. I have been better about unplugging at night, but that depends on how busy I am during the day. Looks like a beautiful place to hike!

    1. It is crazy how those little red bubbles on our phone apps can affect us! I had to stop push notifications on some apps like Instagram, because otherwise I’d always check them. From what you’ve said in your goals post you’re doing well on unplugging at night! That part is still hard for me.

  2. I have gotten real good at ignoring email at night and not checking it until a specific time in the morning. I turned off the email sound so I don’t hear it bing every 15 minutes which has made a huge difference during the day too! it gets real hot and humid in the summer here in NY. 80 is usually considered cool by july/august but some summer we get a break and hang in the low 80’s more than the hazy,hot, humid heat waves in the 90’s. hoping for a cooler yet nice summer this year!

    1. Good for you! And yeah that email bing is super annoying, I turned mine off also. It’s so funny that you say 80 is considered cool by mid summer because that’s a heat wave here! Hopefully this mild winter means a mild summer as well.

  3. So I’m not a huge fan of camping BUT if I lived in a place with views like this and could actually hike up to a campsite? Oh heck yes!!!! I absolutely love that you do this with your husband and can completely unplug. And Charlie is the greatest. If pugs could run long distances I would get a dog just like him 🙂

    1. Hiking to the site makes it so much more fun, even if (or probably because?) it’s such a hard workout. And thank you! Charlie can run about 3-5 miles, but I think that’s more the beagle side of him than the pug…the pug side of him is what loves to eat 🙂

  4. That Goat Lake Picture has to be one of my absolute favorites of yours. Simply stunning.
    I think my problem has become that I don’t give myself those working blocks like we’ve been discussing in mastermind, and that is what is hampering me, to an extent. Or then I think about doing a block of work and get overwhelmed by how much I have to do, or that I DON”T WANNA. I need to get back online with enjoying what I am doing, even if it is busyworkk.

    1. Thank you so much, Suzy! Morning light makes for such great photos 🙂 And working blocks are so tricky, as I think we all mentioned in the group – whether it’s overextending them or not feeling motivated to work during them. But they are effective! I say as I keep getting distracted during my pre-lunch working block.

  5. Yes, unplugging is hard! I’m struggling with that now that I have so much on my plate. My puppy wants to sit on my lap and does not want to share it with my laptop! She chews on it when I’m trying to work. That’s why I’m still catching up on blog posts from yesterday…

    Your pictures are amazing!

    1. Your new puppy is adorable! That puppy stage is always hard – they demand so much when you’re trying to work. Although the lap part doesn’t go away…as I write this Charlie is sitting on my lap. And thank you!

  6. This sounds amazing! When we were in Belize, one of the places we stayed had 90 miles of private trails, no wifi or cable, and it was amazing. Being woken up by bird calls and getting to go hike to see the sunrise was incredible! I think I need to do that again in the US 🙂

    1. Belize sounds amazing with all of those trails! You should definitely try to find something like that here – I bet there are some good trails near you!

    1. Thank you! Got to love all the natural lighting in the mountains 🙂 It’s adorable how much Charlie loves the tent and camping – he just wanders around all happy!

  7. I love this! So stunning! Whenever we go camping for a weekend I always relish the chance to unplug. It feels so peaceful, especially =being out in already-peaceful nature. I’m not really a workaholic or even much of a social media-aholic, but I think if I worked for myself, it would be different. Having a 9-5 like-but-don’t-love office job makes it a little easier to separate myself from work.

    1. Thank you! Camping is so peaceful (as long as there’s no bears lol. Not that we’ve seen any here, but then why do they say to bring bear cans?). Working for oneself is definitely different, because there’s no set hours and work is at home. Plus there’s less reliable pay than a salary job, so you always feel like you should be working to do more! But it’s worth it in the end, especially when you get the chances to unplug and take a break.

  8. That looks beautiful!!! I live in the mountains in BC, Canada and love it. I don’t get out into nature nearly enough but when I do, it feels amazing. Thanks for reminding me to set aside some much needed time to unplug 🙂

      1. They sure are! We live right on the border of Washington and very close to Idaho. We loved Coeur D’Alene! But would love to explore a lot more 🙂

  9. I am far from a workaholic…probably the main reason being my job is not one that can “come home” with me; my position does not allow for remote access. I cannot say that I complain about that. BUT…I have a terrible time trying to disconnect. This is definitely something that I need to change in my life!

    We are okay in the heat. Our apartment stays pretty cool which is nice. The challenge, of course, with the heat is that we enjoy being outdoors. But in 90 degree temps, sometimes that is just not logical…does not mean we opt for inside, but we will have to alter our plans.

    1. It’s surprisingly cool in the mountains even on hot days! Yeah, it still is warm and hydration is essential as is adjusting effort, but there’s something so refreshing about sitting by an alpine lake – or even of the local lakes we have here.

  10. Looks lovely, and I’m so jealous of the time you got “unplugged”. We always say that our relationship and our families take priority, then work, but our jobs are such that we can never leave our phones aside for more than a few hours even on the weekend without literally putting it on the calendar. Something we hope to change down the road!

    1. That must be stressful that you can’t be away from your phone for too long! I do feel a bit guilty about not responding to email right away and worry a bit – what if someone has a bad long run? – but I think overall it helps all of us be better at our jobs to take a break. I hope you get the chance to unplug soon!

  11. It’s definitely a battle for me to stay away from my phone. For me, it’s almost like a tic or an OCD thing. It takes practice and discipline for me to put away my phone.

    I work from home too, except mine is the unpaid kind. 😉 I have been doing it for so long though that I have acquired a lot of skills over the years. I never waste time unless I plan my wasted time. Like, I treat myself to a slot of time where I get to dick around on the computer or hoop in the backyard or dance and drink wine in the kitchen. Stuff like that. But otherwise, I go go go go go nonstop all day long from the second I wake up to the second I go to sleep. My days are packed to the BRIM. And it makes me happy. My runs are carved out and high on my priority list as a way to take care of my Self. <3 Okay I feel like this comment is getting too long lol

    1. Stepping away from the phone takes so much discipline! I always admire your ability to do a million things in a day and stay organized whenever I read your week in review posts! Seriously, between that and the dedication you give to your training, you are superwoman. I like the idea of time to just kick back and relax – that’s Friday and Saturday nights here and man those times are great! especially if there’s wine or beer to sip on 🙂 PS no comment is too long since I’m pretty sure I’ve left novels on your blog.

  12. Oh now that just sounds gorgeous! I have the hardest time disconnecting as well since most of my work is online, so going somewhere that I don’t have access to an internet connection is literally the only thing that’ll get me to stop checking my emails. I try to set myself “office hours” when I’m at home, but even that’s difficult when you really enjoy what you do and it doesn’t always feel like work.

    1. Thank you! Yes, so you understand – it’s so hard because the type of work we do is enjoyable and a wonderful privilege to be able to make a living from doing, but at the same time there’s no leaving the office type thing to detach work from the rest of life. They bleed through into each other, which has both its pros and cons.

  13. I realllly have to get on the camping bandwagon. I can spend all day outside, but I’ve never had a good night of sleep in the woods so I’ve avoided it…but CO has so many camping places!

    1. Oh my gosh yes you should – I bet CO has stunning trails for backpacking! I swear by a good mattress pad and warm sleeping bag (I think mine is warm enough for as low to 21 degrees) to make sleeping easier and it’s become an incredible night of sleep.

  14. My biggest thing about being unplugged is if my daughter isn’t with me, second I want all the great pictures right on my phone for when I am plugged 🙂 Beautiful pictures here so glad you had a great time in nature!

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