Appalachian Understories Backpacking Trip Builds Community
On a rainy Friday evening in late September, a few folks set out on a six-mile backpacking excursion on the Buckeye Trail. Led by Appalachian Understories Tourism Specialist Madison Donohue and Shawnee Trail Coordinator Scott Krepps, they journeyed throughout the Wayne National Forest for a three-day immersive trip. This introductory backpacking course, designed to be accessible to everyone, provided hikers with tips and tricks about backpacking for all experience levels. Some participants had some familiarity with backpacking, one saying that he found the event after searching for outdoor excursions for adults similar to the ones he led when his son was a Boy Scout. Another had never been camping before, and was eager to learn how to set up her tent for the first time.
Despite cold, rainy weather conditions, the group was full of optimism and questions about backpacking. Participants learned a multitude of practices like how to set up tents, map their trails, identify plants, efficiently pack for a trip, and more.
“One of my favorite moments was introducing one participant to plant identification,” Madison said, “he got to experience the wonders of spicebush for the first time, which was exciting.”
The group, who came together as strangers but left as a team, worked together during the excursion. Building camps and fires together “really built a community between the group,” Madison said. “It’s amazing what kind of connections can happen between people when you’re out in the woods with them. There’s a sense of community that’s just not found anywhere else.”