Stepping through Assateague Island

Stepping through Assateague Island

The trade off of trying something outside of your bubble?

Sometimes opportunities must be seized by yourself

(and with the help of new friends). 

A few weekends ago, I spontaneously joined 6 new friends on my very first “backpacking” trip to Assateague Island in Maryland, a beautiful beach near the ocean famous for its wild ponies. 

Wild ponies casually near the road in Assateague Island!

Of the 7 people who went on the trip, I had met two of them once before, and the other 4 were strangers.  It was nerve-wracking and kind of exhausting to go through introductions.Would I connect with these new friends?

Hey, that’s what happens when you meet new people and dabble in new experiences.

Yes, I was a bit anxious about getting along with everyone, but I also wanted to 1) meet new like-minded friends and 2) experience a “real authentic backpacking trip.” Everyone on this trip were experienced backpackers and extremely familiar with thru-hiking popular routes like the Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trial, and Appalachian Trail.

What was it like to carry all of your essentials in a weight-distributed pack that rests snuggly on top of your hips? Would I get addicted to REI?

It was time to go beyond pitching a tent next to a car.

Walking to our campsite for the night, a tiny island protected from the shoreline.

Thanks to some very generous and patient friends, I packed the outdoor gear I owned and borrowed some of their fancy high-tech gear as well:

  • 60L pack – Tons of extra room, could have survived with a 45-50L pack
  • Sleeping pad
  • Egg-carton butt pad – Lifesaver in the colder weather!!
  • Water filter
  • Emergency kit
  • Poop shovel
  • Headlamp
  • Tent and stakes
  • Sub-zero sleeping bag — Because we were hiking right after a winter storm
  • Extra pair of wool socks

One friend walked through what to pack for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. He also explained how some people will hike through certain meals, so I tried to bring food that I could eat on-the-go like nut bars, trail mix, sandwiches, dried fruit.

I brought four clementines, and my friend told me to eat two before we left, because clementines are relatively heavy with liquid, which is something I didn’t initially think about.

I also discovered the power of some high-calorie peanut butter chunk trail mix — SO DELICIOUS!

A storm had just passed through the area. This night perfectly described the calm after the storm.

We were outside for less than 48 hours, so the trip was really quite short, sweet, and sandy.

The ocean waves crashed along our feet like a pendulum. The refreshing wind whipped around our faces and I took my time walking in silence for several consecutive hours.


She’s hiking currently hiking the Appalachian Trail!

The greatest gift of the weekend was making the whole experience tangible.

I’m so grateful I was able to meet people with such a penchant for the #outdoors #exploration #zerowaste #leavenotrace.

One person was even about to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) with a super ultra-light pack… and no stove! At first, I was absolutely blown away by my friend’s decision to go stove-less on the AT. After this weekend, I better understood why you might want to sacrifice a warm meal for the sake of conserving drinking water.

It was my first “real authentic backpacking” step.

My first impression.

My first taste.

I now have an idea of what food to pack, what gear to look for… and what it’s like to play catch up when it feels like everyone is sprinting across the beach.

Walking along the desolate beach with new friends

Have you ever hiked outdoors?

Where have you gone? 

What’s your favorite part about being outside?