Don’t Forget an Extra Pair of Socks and Your Baggage.

There are three types of fun.

  • Type I Fun- you’re having a blast while the activity is happening.

Snowboarding at a resort, swimming at the beach, riding your bike to go get ice cream, hell even ski ball!

“This is amazing! I wish I could do this everyday!”

  • Type II Fun– you are in fact NOT having fun while this activity is taking place.

Climbing, back country skiing, trail running, and ANYTHING mountaineering. It’s not fun until you’ve finished the activity, when you have snot running down your face and you can’t tell what hurts worse, your body or ego.   

“Wow that was horrible, want to do it again next weekend?” 

  • Type III Fun– you are NOT having fun while the activity is taking place and you do not have any intention of doing it again.

Usually anything that leads to almost dying.

“Dude that was f*cked, we’re never doing this again”

The outdoor scene tends to stick to Type II fun, and a lot of my favorite activities are under that category.

Backpacking; carrying a 20-40lbs pack on your back, walking in the woods and up steep mountains for 8 hours. Constantly subjected to the weather, filtering any water because if you don’t you’ll have the trail poops, sleeping in a little tent next to your partner who snores even though they insist they don’t, and eating a stupid amount of dehydrated food and Snickers’. You’re basically pretending the apocalypse has happened. Type II Fun.

Want to make things a little more spicy? Add a group of nine 16-year-old girls who have never gone backpacking.

Alaska Mountain Guides (the company I work for) takes a few groups of young teens from a summer camp on the Historical Chilkoot Trail.

I was picked to guide one of these trips. It would be my lead guide, 9 girls, their counselor, and myself for 33 miles over the course of 4 days.

I have plenty of my own backpacking trips under my belt, knowledge from my previous jobs, and hell I use to teach Backpacking 101 at REI. So why am I here second-guessing myself on how many pairs of underwear to bring.

Imposter Syndrome at it’s finest.

Weeks leading up to the trip, I thought there was a mistake when I read my name on the Long Trip Schedule that was tapped to the office door. Why me? What did they see that made them think I could guide a group of girls through the backcountry?

“You’re almost there!” I lie to the crying girls as we finished up our first 13-mile day. It’s drizzling, a few of them already have blisters, and we have 4 days worth of food for 12 people tugging at our shoulders.

Why do I find this fun? How do I make this fun for them? Am I the right person to do this? How am I supposed to do this for 4 days?

Doubts flutter through my brain like butterflies.

I would say as the sun rises and sets, but Alaskan summers… anyway as the days go on the tears recede with laughter replacing them, I see the girls loosen up, I see them charge head on for the steep sections that lie in front of us, and we talk about courage, self-love, and fear. There were dance breaks, terrible jokes, and A LOT of singing.

I was so impressed; I was watching these girls gain a sense of power and confidence that no one would be able to teach them. Before my eyes I watched these girls go from uncertain and timid in the backcountry, to comfortable, and powerful. I basically watched 9 girls turn into Captain Marvel…minus the radioactive explosion.

So impressed and focused on them, I didn’t realize that I had gone through the same transformation. My worries melted away like the 2 lbs. of butter we brought with us. Not only did I learn how to make something not fun, fun, I learned how to grab my own balls and lead when I saw that I needed to. I learned how to navigate different personalities in tough situations, and I also learned that other people think it’s weird to sleep head to toe.

More than that, I ended up teaching my lead guide a few tips and tricks that I had learned in the past. Plus I found a pair of socks that someone left at camp one night, score! (Dirt bag tendencies)

Convinced I had no business being there, convinced I had no skills to be guiding people in the backcountry, I did exactly those things, and realized I belonged out there the whole time.

I didn’t know it at the time but those butterflies in my head, they were apart of my own metamorphosis all along.

-Shelby Lynn

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