5 Reasons Artists Should Backpack.
We aren’t all outdoorsy and it can truly be a challenge to give up the luxuries of beds and showers for a few days. But if you’ve never strapped on a pack and walked into the wilderness, as an artist, I can tell you the benefits will far outweigh the short term sacrifices. I have a love/hate relationship with backpacking. The whole no toilet/no shower thing isn’t my fave. Neither is carrying a big pack while hiking. However, I love the feeling of being on the trail, sleeping under the stars.
Last weekend, Mr. F and I took off into the Grand Tetons for a night and it got me thinking of all the ways backpacking can benefit us as artists.
A literal change of scene.
Artists tend to be solitary creatures. We toil away in our studios, sometimes forgetting to go out, eat, even talk to other human beings. We can get so wrapped up in what is going on within those four walls that we begin to overthink, overwork. Backpacking is a fantastic way to get a change of scene, to physically and psychologically distance yourself from the work. You’ll go back to it with a refreshed vision.
Quiet your mind.
No iMac. No iPad. No iPhone. The only I is you. Getting out and leaving technology and distractions behind, allows your mind time to calm. As your feet take you down the trail, your mind is free to wander, to look up, look down, look around and notice the beauty in the three dimensional world around you. You may even find new ideas flowing fast and furious thanks to a bit of peace and quiet.
Find room to breathe.
Those four walls I mentioned earlier? They can be suffocating. Especially when tied to pressure, responsibility, deadlines, all that adult stuff that goes along with being an artist. The longer you hike, the farther you go into the wild, the farther away from those four walls, the more air you’ll feel going into your lungs. Despite the weight of a pack, you feel lighter than air, your only concern is one foot in front of the other. There is finally room to breathe.
For the inspiration.
This one seems obvious, especially if like me, you are an artist for whom nature is your muse. But even if what you do isn’t remotely involved with nature, there are still mountains of inspiration to be attained. Watch the changing light, notice the textures and shapes at play, the juxtapositions of color. I dare you to come away uninspired.
For the adventure.
How often do we get to go on adventures? Our grown up days are usually filled with the monotony of errands and responsibilities. Backpacking will get you back in touch with your inner Huck Finn. There is adventure and possibility around every bend in the trail. Tackling a grocery store run with kids in tow will seem like a piece of cake once you’ve climbed steep switchbacks with a pack on your back.
If you get the chance, take to the trail. Your legs might hate you but your mind, your spirit, and your work will thank you.
All images by Lesley Frenz. Images from the Top of the World trail to Marion Lake and Granite Canyon, Grand Teton National Park.