5 Lessons I Learned on My First Backpacking Trip

5 Lessons I Learned on My First Backpacking Trip

When Lisa met Yosemite.

Unwritten Rules of Backpacking: Yosemite National Park

Ever crave an escape that truly lets you unplug and feel blissfully small? Immersing myself in nature does just that—it’s my ultimate way to ground myself and find a meditative peace. Here I share 5 lessons I learned on my first long distance backpacking trip so you can start your adventure feeling prepared and inspired.

A 40-Mile Adventure in Yosemite

2020 was challenging for me, like it was for many. I faced the loss of a loved one to COVID, started a new job via Zoom, and locked down in a new city, feeling isolated from my family. That summer, I decided to break free and truly unplug by camping as an LA city girl. Yosemite National Park turned out to be the perfect escape.

Embarking on a 40-mile, 4-day hike from Snow Creek’s switchbacks to Cloud’s Rest’s summit was transformative. Each step in Yosemite’s wilderness felt like turning a page in a nature novel, with pristine landscapes and exhilarating climbs. Yosemite was absolutely breathtaking, and the adventure was exactly what I needed.

View from Cloud's Rest!

Lesson 1: Let your personal motivation be your North Star. When the hike gets tough, remind yourself why you’re there. Great hiking boots also help!

Nature’s Symphony

Nights were magical, with shooting stars painting the vast sky. By day, the sounds of waterfalls like Nevada Falls serenaded each step. The highlight? Spotting a bald eagle soaring high, symbolizing the park’s untamed beauty.

Lesson 2: Know the wildlife. Yosemite is bear country, so bring your bear canister!

Gorgeous views all along the trail, Tenaya Lake featured here!

Cloud’s Rest: The Ultimate Reward

Reaching Cloud’s Rest was the ultimate reward. The 360-degree view from the summit was jaw-dropping, stretching from Hawaii to Nebraska. Iconic sights like Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, Cathedral Rocks, and El Capitan were all in view. It’s nature’s greatest hits album!

Lesson 3: Pack light, maybe even ultralight, to reach your dream destination.

A great tent that fit my partner and I very comfortably!

Gear Up for Your Adventure

I quickly acquired GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, when preparing for this trip. My advice? Only bring what you absolutely need. Boy did I over pack on my first few hikes! Especially in the toiletries and make-up department.

That silver Athleta bag is only toiletries! I brought toner and eye cream to the top of a mountain - learn from my mistakes!

Lesson 4: Food and toiletries must fit into the bear canister over night and every night! Otherwise you may get a visit from Sally the Bear who's in market for a new lip gloss.

All my food for the trip (not including what my partner carried heehee)! I mixed candied walnuts with jerky to make a delicious and filling snack!

Cotton Kills

Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics like merino wool socks, and choose breathable underwear and bras to stay comfortable and healthy on the trail. As a woman, it’s crucial to pay attention to your clothing choices because the wrong shorts, for instance, can lead to itching and chafing by Day 3, regardless of how sexy they make you feel.

Final Lesson: Cotton kills!

My bra was cotton and my shorts were way too tight! Never again - merino wool only!

Happy Hiking!

If you’re looking for a mix of adventure and awe-inspiring views, Yosemite’s Cloud’s Rest hike is a must-do. The journey will test your endurance and reward you with some of nature’s most spectacular sights. Happy hiking!

I had so much fun! Thank you for reading & let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you for reading and subscribe today!

Lisa Eshun-Wilson

Lisa Eshun-Wilson

Berkeley, CA