089: Backpacking in the Olympics

Show Notes: Episode 089

Today on the First 40 Miles, with Summer Olympics coming soon, we have one question on our minds: why isn’t backpacking an Olympic sport?  Then on today’s Top 5 List, we’ll peruse an issue of Backpacker Magazine from 40 years ago and see what catches our eye.  On Ready for Adventure, the Olympics do have backpacking!   On the Backpack Hack of the Week, we’ll share a listener’s life hack.  And we’ll wrap up the show with our good friend on the trail, Horace Kephart.


  • The 2016 Summer Olympics
  • Summer Olympics have some fascinating and fun events
  • But why isn’t backpacking an Olympic sport?
  • It has all the elements of an Olympic sport
    • You have the people who do it for fun, and the you have the ones who are competing for records. Backpacking isn’t just for people who want to recharge, it attracts a lot of people who are out there to push limits and conquer!
    • Requires endurance
    • People powered sport
  • It doesn’t lend itself to spectator viewing. Sports and events have been altered over the years to better accommodate spectators.
  • Olympics are more about man vs. man than man vs. nature.
  • Nature has infinite variables…and most Olympic events are set up to fit neatly into a box of strict measurements, meters, and liters.

Top 5 Ads from Backpacker Magazine 40 Years Ago (August 1976)

Backpacker Magazine August 1976

Ready for Adventure: Olympic National Park, Flapjack Lakes Trail

What’s the draw?  What attracted you to this trail?

  • Inspired by our friend is going on her first backpacking trip with her husband
  • 5 miles (15 miles round trip)
  • out + back

What did you do to find information on this trail?

What permits do you need to backpack and camp?

  • The Olympic National Park has a $20 entrance fee
  • Permits are required for backpacking, which adds a level of anticipation to the trip!
  • $5 per person, per night (FREE for under 16)
  • Permit application starts after March 15th of the year you want to go (the ides of March)
  • If they accept your application, they’ll let you know within a week via email
  • Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Olympic National Park except when fishing in the Pacific Ocean from shore.

What else should I know about this trail?

  • Black Bears are known to make this region their home, so practice good bear skills. Bring a canister and be smart about storing your smellables (food + hygiene items)

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Backpacking—the ultimate LIFE hack

  • One of our First 40 Milers clued us in on this hack: Backpacking is a hack in itself…a life hack.  The benefits are too great to list.  Clarity, solitude, connection, memories, rejuvenation, health, accomplishment…
  • So many of our hacks are designed to do something simple like save a little money or use a common household item in a unique way on the trail—but this hack could save your sanity

Trail Wisdom

“The man with the knapsack is never lost. No matter whither he may stray, his food and shelter are right with him, and home is wherever he may choose to stop.”

–Horace Kephart