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ryan850
07-14-2015, 21:42
Hello all. I'm taking my brother on his first backpacking trip soon, and will be taking my girlfriend on her first trip later this year, so I wanted to get advice for how to make a loved one love backpacking. First of all, I know it's pointless to make someone love something they just aren't into, but I want to do my best. Have you had success with this?

Here are things I've considered. I think I have pretty good list, but I always learn something new from you guys:

I picked a location that is flat and has nice weather this time of year
It's an island, North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan, so can swim after each day to clean up. I'm used to going days without showers on the trail now, but lack of showers was a problem for me at first.
I will do low miles per day and take multiple and/or long breaks
I won't start too early
Will end early, enough time to enjoy time at camp
Lightweight hammock for comfort at camp
Good food
I'll try to cultivate good moments, good view of the night sky, sunsets, campfires
The location is never crowded
I'll make sure to have proper temperature rating for their sleeping bag, a pad with good R-value, and I'll carry an extra fleece just in case it gets chilly at night.
I'm giving them lightweight gear to use and I'll carry extra to reduce their pack weight

If they don't love it after this, they may never, but I want to give them a good first impression. What do you think?

Dochartaigh
07-14-2015, 21:50
Have the car-camped before? Did they like it? ...always best to break in somebody slow to the outdoors if it's something they're not used to.

rocketsocks
07-14-2015, 21:57
Carry all their stuff for em.

ryan850
07-14-2015, 22:01
Have the car-camped before? Did they like it? ...always best to break in somebody slow to the outdoors if it's something they're not used to.

Good question. My girlfriend has, she was in the British version of girlscouts when she was young, but hasn't backpacked. My brother hasn't done any camping at all. I've been backpacking all over the world for most of the past 4 years and he's really wanting to see what it was like. That's hard to do in a week, but ultimately my goal is for him to have a good time and maybe want to go again and again. I'll leave out some of the bad experiences, like getting mugged on a beach in Spain with a stun gun, running out of water in a desert, or dealing with 6 days a week of rain while hiking across Scotland. I want to show him the good things.

ryan850
07-14-2015, 22:02
Carry all their stuff for em.

Hah! I actually plan to do as much of that as possible.

rocketsocks
07-14-2015, 22:17
Hah! I actually plan to do as much of that as possible.
Yup, on a more serious note, I've heard it mentioned here to always hike at the slowest persons pace, seems like good advice.

Dogwood
07-14-2015, 22:21
inspire them with your enthusiasm

pick a window of acceptable weather not to warm not to cold not to hot but just right just like baby bear liked it

don't overwhelm them by attempting to download all you know on them in one big swoosh

be patient and tolerant, don't expect them to do everything like you do it in the outdoors, inspire their confidence to let them decide for themselves some things, involve them in your parties decisions, engage them, ask them hat they think how they feel etc about stuff

create outdoor names for each other, gf could be cutesy poo or little bear or master firestarter or queen of the smores, etc

loosen up, don't be too serious, have a sense of humor, encourage it,

alcohol lots of alcohol

rocketsocks
07-14-2015, 22:25
inspire them with your enthusiasm

pick a window of acceptable weather not to warm not to cold not to hot but just right just like baby bear liked it

don't overwhelm them by attempting to download all you know on them in one big swoosh

be patient and tolerant, don't expect them to do everything like you do it in the outdoors, inspire their confidence to let them decide for themselves some things, involve them in your parties decisions, engage them, ask them hat they think how they feel etc about stuff

create outdoor names for each other, gf could be cutesy poo or little bear or master firestarter or queen of the smores, etc

loosen up, don't be too serious, have a sense of humor, encourage it,

alcohol lots of alcoholYup, allowing someone to experience things for themselves is where the real growth comes in...for both partys. Just be mindful that's all. Good point DW

BirdBrain
07-14-2015, 22:35
Carry all their stuff for em.

Have I told.you lately that I love you.... and that I would like to go hiking with you.... if you are willing to carry all my stuff?

Seriously though, find other known interests that can be built into the walk. Fishing, bird watching, butterfly watching, photography, swimming, etc.

FreshStart
07-14-2015, 22:36
Don't be to pushy with the small things. All of the things you learned on your own they should too. If you see them doing something wrong or a more difficult way allow them to figure it out themselves. It's hard to not tell them the right way (your way) when you see someone struggling but sometimes it rubs them the wrong way. I remember watching my fiancÚ trying to start a fire for what seemed like forever but she was determined....I had a better way but I kept it to myself(she was trying without matches or a lighter). It was tough but it payed off in the end, she started it and was very proud of herself. Little things can go a long way. Stay at their pace and take breaks when they want to. In the end just have FUN!

rocketsocks
07-14-2015, 22:48
Have I told.you lately that I love you.... and that I would like to go hiking with you.... if you are willing to carry all my stuff?

Seriously though, find other known interests that can be built into the walk. Fishing, bird watching, butterfly watching, photography, swimming, etc.Me Tooooo.

Dochartaigh
07-14-2015, 23:19
Good question. My girlfriend has, she was in the British version of girlscouts when she was young, but hasn't backpacked. My brother hasn't done any camping at all. I've been backpacking all over the world for most of the past 4 years and he's really wanting to see what it was like. That's hard to do in a week, but ultimately my goal is for him to have a good time and maybe want to go again and again. I'll leave out some of the bad experiences, like getting mugged on a beach in Spain with a stun gun, running out of water in a desert, or dealing with 6 days a week of rain while hiking across Scotland. I want to show him the good things.

If you're alluding that this trip is going to be a week long, I would seriously think about altering your plan. Do an overnight car camping trip first...and more like several of them. Then bridge into a weekend (overnight/2-day) low-mile flat-terrain hike where they're carrying all their stuff (even if you're carrying a lot of the gear). You just can't jump into a week long trip and expect them to like it no matter what you do. Baby steps.

ryan850
07-15-2015, 00:26
Seriously though, find other known interests that can be built into the walk. Fishing, bird watching, butterfly watching, photography, swimming, etc.

That's great advice. I have a couple ideas that will be perfect.

ryan850
07-15-2015, 00:27
inspire them with your enthusiasm

pick a window of acceptable weather not to warm not to cold not to hot but just right just like baby bear liked it

don't overwhelm them by attempting to download all you know on them in one big swoosh

be patient and tolerant, don't expect them to do everything like you do it in the outdoors, inspire their confidence to let them decide for themselves some things, involve them in your parties decisions, engage them, ask them hat they think how they feel etc about stuff

create outdoor names for each other, gf could be cutesy poo or little bear or master firestarter or queen of the smores, etc

loosen up, don't be too serious, have a sense of humor, encourage it,

alcohol lots of alcohol

Lots of great advice here. Thanks Dogwood!

ryan850
07-15-2015, 00:30
Don't be to pushy with the small things. All of the things you learned on your own they should too. If you see them doing something wrong or a more difficult way allow them to figure it out themselves. It's hard to not tell them the right way (your way) when you see someone struggling but sometimes it rubs them the wrong way. I remember watching my fiancÚ trying to start a fire for what seemed like forever but she was determined....I had a better way but I kept it to myself(she was trying without matches or a lighter). It was tough but it payed off in the end, she started it and was very proud of herself. Little things can go a long way. Stay at their pace and take breaks when they want to. In the end just have FUN!

I need to think back to what I loved about my first trip. Although, for me the best bit was being alone lol.

rocketsocks
07-15-2015, 01:01
I need to think back to what I loved about my first trip. Although, for me the best bit was being alone lol.
ah man you nailed it. I agree, makin' your own moves and dealin' with the consequences, thinking things thew to get it right...it's very asteam and character building, and down right fun.

bigcranky
07-15-2015, 07:20
I don't think I'd carry too much of their stuff, especially your girlfriend. Two reasons - (1) part of the satisfaction of backpacking is carrying everything you need on your back, and (2) it can possibly come across as condesending ("oh you poor dear you can't possibly carry all this").

However I would definitely carry some extra things that make the camp experience better, like the hammock, some red wine and dark chocolate (for the GF hike, probably not for the brother hike :) ), a decent cook kit and some good food, that sort of thing. Maybe some binoculars and a night sky guide (get one for your smartphone, they are very cool). Bring some baby wipes and other cleanup items so you don't stink quite as much too.

Also I would start with a 2 or 3 day hike (one or two nights), and with my GF I would plan a night at a B&B or something afterward if she likes that sort of thing. :)

And you are wise to know that you can't "make" someone like an activity. Good luck and I hope it works out.

Slo-go'en
07-15-2015, 11:02
Go someplace really magical. A place with a really good view to make it worth the effort to get there. Or a nice cascading waterfall.

pauly_j
07-15-2015, 11:12
All already been covered but carrying their gear and cooking great food are major.

Just make camp time as enjoyable as possible. When I'm done walking, a simple chilli can taste like the greatest gourmet meal ever conceived; an air mattress is the most luxurious sleep around. Everything feels great in camp if it's done well and you feel like you've earned it.

Another important point is to have empathy for them. If they're struggling or visibly not enjoying it, don't go all "come on, do this, speed up, you've slowed down" etc. I admit I can be somewhat guilty of this when my girlfriend is traversing the most minor of rocks on her bum.

Walkintom
07-15-2015, 11:12
Let the slowest person set the pace. Put them out front and don't tread on their heels. Genuinely move at whatever pace they want to go.

+1 to bringing extras to make camp more enjoyable such as the wine/chocolate. A good nip of whiskey sure can take the edge off before you go to sleep when you have soreness from trail miles.

Dogwood
07-15-2015, 12:05
Since, you've chosen Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore(North Manitou Island), with abundant sandy beaches, and sometimes lacking shade or protection from the elements, to introduce your GF and Bro to backpacking some things make sense to consider: Sunglasses, possible sunscreen, wind jacket/rain jacket and a weather window with no/little rain and LOW WIND. GFs don't like sandy undies(I'm being serious!).

On that note, make time for just the GF and you ALONE under a blanket hidden between the dunes with the sounds of the water and starry night as the backdrop. :banana

Not sure about the GF and your Bro but many people have problems spending time in the outdoors because it represents a great number of unknowns. For MOST the unknown represents something that must be feared. Allay their fears. Some of the more common ones are bears, snakes, wolves, and masked intruders. Address those. No bears, snakes, or wolves on the island. You have a black belt in karate and your bro was in the Special Forces. Whatever.

Since the island has been the site of homes/farms w/ some historical buildings/orchards still standing, inland lake(s), bluffs, beaches, etc excellent photo opps abound. Consider, making sure the GF and possibly bro have their own cameras. I buy cheap $20 models at Walmart or a pharmacy to hand out to my nieces and nephews when I'm introducing them to overnight outdoor camping/hiking scenarios. You're engaging them offering some independence not just telling them what they should be doing. Don't attempt to turn them into you! Co CREATE with them AND..... LET THEM CREATE SOME OF THEIR OWN MEMORIES.

Sunrises/sunsets should be panoramic along a complete unbroken horizon as you look out across the island, inland lake, and Lake Michigan. Take advantage of them.

You have the ferry ride across to the island. ENJOY that aspect of your outing too.

Consider mixing in some short bike riding!

Consider mixing in some paddling! On my second trips to Channel Islands and Isle Royale NPs I rented canoes/kayaks to get out on the water around the islands and on the inland waterways. WOW! was I sorely missing out on previous outings because I was in such a one dimensional backpacking frame of mind!!!

Swim!

On clear nights - Stargaze!

In todays age many folks in countries like Great Britain and the U.S. have shortened attention spans. Keep that in mind by mixing things up keeping it interesting.

Keep in mind it's not just about two possible scenarios backpack OR camp. There are an INFINITE number of other things to do as you make your way around the island. Check out the Visitors Center. Check out the birds and other wildlife, plants, trees, clouds, geology, facts about the North Manitou Island and Lake Michigan, etc. Bring plant, bird, cloud, etc glossy picture books. Offer some information on what threats the island has/is experienced(ing). Some folks respond better to visual cues rather than just verbal ones. Engage as many of their sense as you can to relay information touch the leaves/rocks/let the sand fall through your hands, smell the flowers/air, taste and savor the wine/schnapps/chili/possible wild edibles, etc

Mix up campsite locations! Camp near a bluff or near/on a beach one night and then in a field or near the larger inland lake a different night mixing up environments but being on your best legal behavior setting a good example for those in your trust.

Dogwood
07-15-2015, 12:10
BTW, I agree North Manitou Island in itself even with all the alternate activities suggested may not be diverse enough to hold the interest of Newbie hikers over a week long period. You'd have to have very patient Newbies and be one heck of a leader to keep them entertained for length of time on the island itself. I live on an island a mach much larger island. Have you ever heard of island fever?

Trillium
07-15-2015, 14:48
I backpacked North Manitou Island about 5 yrs ago. So, I have some info, suggestions based on that trip.

First, the island is not large. We had a group of 10 with some who were on their first backpacking trip and were slow. We took the ferry on a Friday morning and once there, you have to wait for a talk by the NPS personnel explaining all the island rules. So, we didn't get hiking until around noon. We hiked north first and around the north side we took a side trail then bushwacked down to the shore where we spent about an hour. Then back up to our packs that we had hung in trees and hiked around the western side of the island to just short of the halfway point where we camped. Next day (Saturday) we took our time eating breakfast and striking camp. Then hiked the rest of the western side of the island, around the southern end and made camp mid afternoon near the southeastern area of the island. The next morning we hiked on the beach along the eastern shore back to where the ferry would pick us up. All told we did a max of possibly 10-11 hrs of hiking over the 3 days with some very slow hikers with bad blisters. I don't remember the mileage but just related this to let you know that a week on the island would likely be too long.

Other issues:
Ferry - you need to make reservations in advance; they get sold out in advance, sometimes 4-5 months in advance.

MUST have - bug repellent!!!!!!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough; otherwise, your GF may consider swimming back to the mainland. This is needed particularly on the trails that are not right along the shore which basically is all of them unless you walk along the beach which you can't do for most of the island.

Camping - there are restrictions, the main one I remember is that you MUST be a certain distance away from the shore. The rangers DO patrol and will ticket and make you move. One of the guys in our group was about 5-10 feet too close and they gave him a warning and made him move his tent.

Campfires - NOT allowed except for a very few places (my recollection is that there are only 2) where there are established campsites. I didn't know this and carried a whole bag of marshmallows, a whole box of graham crackers and a package of 6 Hershey bars. On Saturday evening we watched the sunset on the beach (spectacular) while drinking hot chocolate made much better with the peppermint schnapps that Walking Stick brought and the hersheys and the marshmallows.

Shade - there's a whole heck of a lot of trees on the island so shade and ample locations to hang is not a problem. You may want to bring some sunscreen but if forgotten, it would not be a big problem. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I didn't take any. We went last weekend of July and while it was sunny the entire time, no one burned except one guy who was extremely fair.

Bikes - I don't think they are allowed on the island. Regardless, you can't rent them there because:

There are NO merchants, vendors, anything on the island. If you don't bring something you need, you will be going without.

So, be sure to bring a water filter. (Unlike the woman on our trip who ran out of water within the first 3 hrs and then had to rely on the good graces of others for more water)

Also, bring first aid supplies for blisters. Personally, I just use duct tape the second I feel just the hint of a hot spot. But the same woman who ran out of water also developed bad blisters and had no first aid supplies so once again someone else had to give her what she needed.

If you have any other questions about N Manitou, shoot me a PM.

Trillium
07-15-2015, 14:54
I backpacked North Manitou Island about 5 yrs ago. So, I have some info, suggestions based on that trip.

First, the island is not large. We had a group of 10 with some who were on their first backpacking trip and were slow. We took the ferry on a Friday morning and once there, you have to wait for a talk by the NPS personnel explaining all the island rules. So, we didn't get hiking until around noon. We hiked north first and around the north side we took a side trail then bushwacked down to the shore where we spent about an hour. Then back up to our packs that we had hung in trees and hiked around the western side of the island to just short of the halfway point where we camped. Next day (Saturday) we took our time eating breakfast and striking camp. Then hiked the rest of the western side of the island, around the southern end and made camp mid afternoon near the southeastern area of the island. The next morning we hiked on the beach along the eastern shore back to where the ferry would pick us up. All told we did a max of possibly 10-11 hrs of hiking over the 3 days with some very slow hikers with bad blisters. I don't remember the mileage but just related this to let you know that a week on the island would likely be too long.

Other issues:
Ferry - you need to make reservations in advance; they get sold out in advance, sometimes 4-5 months in advance.

MUST have - bug repellent!!!!!!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough; otherwise, your GF may consider swimming back to the mainland. This is needed particularly on the trails that are not right along the shore which basically is all of them unless you walk along the beach which you can't do for most of the island.

Camping - there are restrictions, the main one I remember is that you MUST be a certain distance away from the shore. The rangers DO patrol and will ticket and make you move. One of the guys in our group was about 5-10 feet too close and they gave him a warning and made him move his tent.

Campfires - NOT allowed except for a very few places (my recollection is that there are only 2) where there are established campsites. I didn't know this and carried a whole bag of marshmallows, a whole box of graham crackers and a package of 6 Hershey bars. On Saturday evening we watched the sunset on the beach (spectacular) while drinking hot chocolate made much better with the peppermint schnapps that Walking Stick brought and the hersheys and the marshmallows.

Shade - there's a whole heck of a lot of trees on the island so shade and ample locations to hang is not a problem. You may want to bring some sunscreen but if forgotten, it would not be a big problem. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, I didn't take any. We went last weekend of July and while it was sunny the entire time, no one burned except one guy who was extremely fair.

Bikes - I don't think they are allowed on the island. Regardless, you can't rent them there because:

There are NO merchants, vendors, anything on the island. If you don't bring something you need, you will be going without.

So, be sure to bring a water filter. (Unlike the woman on our trip who ran out of water within the first 3 hrs and then had to rely on the good graces of others for more water)

Also, bring first aid supplies for blisters. Personally, I just use duct tape the second I feel just the hint of a hot spot. But the same woman who ran out of water also developed bad blisters and had no first aid supplies so once again someone else had to give her what she needed.

If you have any other questions about N Manitou, shoot me a PM.

Trillium
07-15-2015, 14:58
woops, sorry about the double post.

I loved backpacking and camping on N Manitou. Likely your brother and GF will as well.

Another idea for a short backpacking trip would be in the Jordan River Valley west of Gaylord.

Traffic Jam
07-15-2015, 19:58
Lots of good tips but sometimes no matter how hard you try, something goes wrong. Your attitude when this happens will make or break your trip and contribute to your loved one's experience. Do you get stressed and angry or do you laugh it off and turn it into an adventure?

I agree with Dogwood and Trillium, North Manitou is a small island and seven days seems excessive.

When I was there, one of my favorite things to do was to hunt for Petoskey rocks and lay my tarp on the beach early in the morning, watch the sunrise, and make my coffee

Have a great trip.

Malto
07-15-2015, 21:13
There is no possible way to MAKE someone love hiking. my wife humored me once while we were dating then never again which is perfectly OK. I do my thing and she does hers. My suggestion is not to force anything. If she takes to it then great, if not then go solo.

Dogwood
07-15-2015, 21:21
Perhaps, my advice was ambiguous. When I mention Sleeping Bear Dunes Nationals Seashore I was not referring to activities solely relegated to North Manitou Island as that is only what part of this National Seashore. Yes, you can bike along the shore in Sleeping Bear Dunes Nat Seashore south of Leland where you catch the ferry across to N. Manitou Island. It's a very nice ride on paved trail.

http://www.nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm

http://www.nps.gov/SLBE/planyourvisit/index.htm

mPalozzola01
07-16-2015, 23:55
There isn't a way to get someone to love it they will or won't but something I think is important that I really didn't see mentioned. Find out what they want from the trip. Let them set a little of the goal. Is the girlfriend into snuggling down by a camp fire or is she off to see the peaks of the mountain etc. It goes with let the newbie (not derogatory but serious) set the pace. If you don't make the top of the mountain but have an amazing time cooking and enjoying company in the second days camp then so be it. Zero days aren't bad if they aren't boring? Don't let your expectation of the trip set the end goal. If it's an area with multiple options for trails sit down and let em plan with u. Give them options and work thro the trip plan together. They will look to your experience but not just feel like a tag along. Remember there is a sense of accomplishment from achieving for yourself.

Hunger is horrible make sure the food is plenty but also good. Make a legit breakfast not just cold cereal.

Think back to your first hikes. What sunk it's teeth into you and made you love it. Don't make it too easy. People don't just remember the great days, the stories that really survive the test of time come from the hard days. Think through your hikes you'll see what I mean. Of course firsts Vistas and views but god dam you remember that storm or that failed river fording etc

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brianb2
07-17-2015, 14:51
I don't think I'd carry too much of their stuff, especially your girlfriend.
Bingo, go back and re-read this post. No challenge, no reward. Otherwise take her to a spa. For your brother, put an extra rock in his pack. :) good luck

Dogwood
07-17-2015, 22:18
For your brother, put an extra rock in his pack. :) good luck.

Forget the extra rock. Surreptiously sneak a couple of cold ones into his pack. When you get to a convenient quieter place after a sweaty hour of hiking break em out.:D If for no other reason he'll backpack with ya until he gets a goof off on you. Do something similar to the GF preferably while alone with her.

Watch a hiking movie together or have them read a light hearted hiking/outdoor book like A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson

Tell your bro and sis about the old haunted farm, graveyard, and orchard on North Manitoua Island.... once on the island. Make something scary up like a girl ghost has been seen sometimes crawling out of the old well on the farm. Tight hugging from the GF might be nice creating the pop for you to comfort her around a campfire.

Watch hiker TV.....gaze into a small campfire. This type of TV comes with some great outdoorsy odors, warmth, light and unique relaxing sounds though.

Bring along some kites unbeknownst to them. Go fly some kites.

Nude sun bathe........with the GF!..........in a secure hidden location.

Build sand castles.

Slide, tumble, surf down the dunes. Dune surfing can be a lot of fun without so many of the hard falls.

2NewKnees
07-18-2015, 11:16
Impossible. Just be happy they let you go when you want!

Dogwood
07-18-2015, 12:41
It should be clear by now where I've been going when responding to the question, "how to make a loved one love backpacking?" Don't make backpacking all about backpacking! Let it develop into that, IF IT WILL EVER EVEN HAPPEN, by opening the door to it by first introducing people to adventure, variety, the outdoors, and connection - to others, the environment, and to a Higher Power, if you believe in that, and letting them enter through that doorway. The promise is this: IF YOU approach life, and every backpacking adventure with your loved ones, or anyone, in love, peace, joy, patient self control, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and gentleness, with a good dose of wisdom, you'll inspire them!

Be intimately aware arriving at a love of backpacking through these vehicles is almost always fostered long before a foot takes to a trail or one twists themselves into a backpack's shoulder harness!

beebessd
07-20-2015, 07:54
If youre going to north Manitou island its small enough to leave your tent and gear in one spot and do day hikes with lunch to other parts of the island. I think that's a perfect spot to introduce people to backpacking - great choice! When I introduce people to backpacking I make sure to listen to their ideas and suggestions for the trip. For example a friend wanted to build a fire ring out of rocks. Not really my cup of tea to haul big rocks after a day of hiking but he had a blast and its one of his favorite memories. You can even ask them what appeals to them about trying backpacking to try to get some ideas early on.

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