By Matt Brown
For years camping always included the amenities of home, which literally could only be transported in the back of a truck. When I moved to Washington State, I went backpacking for the first time. I discovered that everything I really needed to stay warm, dry, and well-fed could be condensed down into a few basic elements and carried as far as my body could take it. It was the most fun I ever had camping and it changed by life forever.
The idea of getting more enjoyment out of life by simplifying things left a deep impression on me. Today, backpacking continues to be a huge part of my life. The unbelievable views of nature, the peaceful solitude, the occasional tests of will and determination, and the sense of calm I get from removing all of the excess for a week keeps my life in balance and perspective.
That first backpacking trip had such a positive influence in my life, I decided to do everything I could to introduce others to it. So, every year for the last 12 years, I have organized a group backpacking trip known as the "Manly Summer Camp Out".
My favorite place to hike is in Olympic National Park. I especially like the wilderness coast: Miles of pure hiking bliss; tent right on the beach; the glow of a big fire; the sounds of the sea; eagles soaring; and the evening sky lit up like an explosion! Man...I gotta start planning my next trip.