Lindsey on her first backpacking trip

Lindsey and I met while attending the kickoff hike/yoga/drinks session of Galvanize, a regular meeting of Midwestern female outdoor entrepreneurs. She pulled me in right away with her enthusiastic discussion about the Women of the Wild Midwest Gathering, a three day, two night outdoor event from September 21-23rd, 2018, near La Crosse, Wisconsin, that will feature outdoor activities and classes , camping, hiking, paddling, mountain biking, food, drink, sisterhood bonding, shenanigans, and so much more. She cemented her place in my heart when we took a quick detour to check out a few birds of prey! As we hiked, I loved hearing her story of how she came to the outdoors, and laughed with her as we agreed that it was possible to enjoy both Nordstrom and the outdoors. But I don’t want to tell Lindsey’s story for her, so I’ll let her tell you:

Hello everyone!
My name is Lindsey and my day job is in sports marketing for the American Diabetes Association. I was born and raised in Ohio and returned in February of 2017 after a 14-year absence between college and jobs in New Jersey and Louisiana. I’m also very fortunate to be one of the co-founders of the Women of the Wild Midwest Gathering – an outdoor adventure weekend being hosted in La Crosse, WI in September.

Over the last two and a half years, I’ve completely fallen in love with hiking, camping and backpacking. Growing up, I spent most of my time playing basketball and tennis – we would occasionally go fishing – but after a spontaneous hike in November of 2015, I was hooked. Having not seen fall foliage in YEARS as a New Orleans resident, I found myself at a wedding in Iron Station, NC (near Lake Norman) and knew I wanted to spend as much time enjoying the fall weather as I could. A little research introduced me to Lake Norman State Park so I opted to go light on the red wine at
the wedding so I could get up bright and early to go for a hike. Between the fall colors, the quiet of the woods and the crisp, beautiful morning, I had found a happy place I had never been. It sounds dramatic – but those two hours I spent hiking that morning ended upchanging my life.

When I took a new job in March of 2016 that allowed me to work from home, develop balance and included travel, I found myself scouring the AllTrails app on every trip to squeeze in any trail time that I possibly could. It was a new challenge for me – outside my comfort zone – I took the 10 essentials with me EVERYWHERE – even on very short hikes (you never know, right?!). A year after taking the new job, I went through a big life change – one that has turned out for the best, but left my anxiety worse than it’s ever been. I moved back to Ohio to be closer with family – thankfully, my job is remote and I had the flexibility to re-locate. I was blown away by the hiking immediately – I spent every weekend exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Metroparks from Cleveland to Canton. Being outside and soaking up the quiet of winter / early spring hikes, I found hiking to be transformative – it was healing, inspiring, physically demanding, it helped ease my anxiety (while in a different light, challenging it because I was still so new to the trail) and it also just made me really darn happy.

In addition to hiking, I had done a lot of reading about backpacking and I loved how challenging it
seemed. For my 33rd birthday, I decided I wanted to do my first trip – solo. I did a one-night trip and
learned A LOT. First off, don’t let your nerves get the best of you. A wrong turn added about three miles to my trip. It brought be back to the car and I remember sitting down and wondering if I should just drive home. Maybe I wasn’t up for it or ready yet – I was still learning. But instead, I collected myself, double- checked my gear and started again. I survived – definitely wouldn’t say thrived – and I was equally excited that it was over as I was to do it again. To me, there’s something so badass about backpacking. It might be the grittiness of it and the challenge.

After hiking all around Ohio, Lake Tahoe (Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay is a MUST!), Smoky Mountain National Park and the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, I decided I wanted to try to hike a 14er. I was heading to Denver to see The Lumineers close out their summer tour and I figured, why not? Worst that could happen is I turn around and don’t make it. It would still be a beautiful hike. Standing at the top of Gray’s Peak was incredible – it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been (overall – trust me, there were parts that were pretty awful between the altitude and terrain). It reinforced that hiking was something I really loved – and wanted to do more of. Two-and-a-half years after my first hike, I’ve found myself happier than ever and I truly believe I owe the majority of that happiness to the joys and challenges I’ve found outside.

When Jenny asked me about being one of CampRents’ Trail Friends, I knew I wouldn’t be able to write a short entry. [Note from Jenny: I didn’t change a word :)] If I had advice for anyone who is interested in the outdoors or is already active in one or more activities, but wants to try something new… DO IT! One of the most amazing parts of the outdoor community is the people – they’re supportive, collaborative, inspiring, open-minded, accepting – the list goes on. People in the outdoor space want EVERYONE to join in on the fun – there’s tons to be had!

Hope to see you outside!
Lindsey

What I learned on my first backpacking trip: Don’t rush. Sometimes, you might be trying to get to your camp site fast because you left late or are running behind, so in that case, you may be a little hurried. With that said, when it comes to a turn in the trail or getting set up, don’t be afraid to take a moment to think. I remember getting to camp and I was very self-conscious about getting my set-up complete quickly and looking like a pro – such a silly thought! I tried to initially set up in a rocky area because I rushed to pick a site and ended up moving because it was hard to get the tent stakes in – I was kind of a hot mess. If I just would have explored a little, I would have found the spot I ended up settling on the first try. Take your time, stop to think and it will make the trip much more successful and enjoyable!

Lindsey, it was such a privilege to hike and talk with you – I can’t wait for our next outing! Need more info on the Women of the Wild Midwest Gathering? It’s here. Want to attend the next Galvanize session? Shoot me an email through the contact form. More Lindsey can be found in the following places:

Instagram – @_lindsmitchell
Twitter – @_lindsmitchell
Website – www.lindseyhmitchell.com