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Lisa Maloney

Are You a Slackpacker?

By February 5, 2013

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A "no camping" sign

If you've read my bio, you know my relationship with hiking has changed over the years. Nowadays I truck along at a fairly decent clip but I used to bop along at about a mile an hour, usually by myself, thrilled to be outside and prone to plunking down beside the trail to watch whatever caught my fancy.

Stared at birds? Check. Marveled at sun streaming through giant leaves of the otherwise horrific devil's club? Check. Appreciated the beauty of a towering waterfall while calculating my odds of slipping off the slanted, muddy trail and seeing that fall firsthand? Check. (I did end up taking that trail, but I'm not too proud to admit that I crawled (or crab-walked, I guess) a good chunk of it. One of the best trail decisions I've ever made.)

And yet, despite the overtones of slacking which one could infer from my initial "totally mellow" approach to hiking, none of that made me a slackpacker. If I hiked a backpacking trail but skipped the actual backpacking -- gracing indoor plumbing and an actual bed with my presence instead of camping out, and only carrying the bare minimum of gear to handle emergencies -- well, then I'd fit the generally accepted definition of a slackpacker.

I'm curious: What's your hiking style?

Photo Lisa Maloney: The slackpacker's philosophy

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