This is an official public health warning, brought to you live from The World’s Largest Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa. There is an epidemic sweeping the nation: Backpacker Body. If you are exhibiting some or all of the following symptoms, contact your nearest gas station immediately to request something… anything with some sort of nutrition and keep on going.
Symptoms may include:
- Sore Back: The classic can’t-leave-home-without-it backpacker woe. “Why is this happening to me?” you may ask. Well, it’s probably something to do with the 50+ lbs. backpack and the only sleeping on less-than-optimal surfaces.
- Disproportional Biceps: Between lifting your pack up with your dominant arm too many times a day and hours upon hours of extending your thumb towards traffic, one of your arms is going to get super buff. You can try to balance yourself out by lifting your pack with the opposite arm, but that will more than likely just end in you falling on your face. Maybe just adopt asymmetry as a lifestyle.
- Sunburn: This may occur in places you never thought possible. Hours in the sun will do that to you. To avoid this symptom, avoid throwing your tube of sunscreen 20 feet across concrete to someone who is known to be awful at catching without giving them sufficient warning that you are about to do so.
- Exhaust Pipe Burn: When entering and exiting semi trucks, take care not to touch the exhaust. It looks like a great place to place your hand to help stabilize yourself as you climb up and down, but it’s NOT. Doing so will result in blisters and a lot of pain.
- Hip Bruises: All those hours with the backpack waist strap really add up. Any weekend hiker will tell you that the weight is supposed to rest on your hips, but anyone who’s been at it for 3 weeks will tell you that the weight is better anywhere but there at this point.
- Random Cuts and Bruises: Don’t ask about these. They just happen. Nobody knows why. Not even God, despite how the radio guy in Nebraska said that God knows everything.
- Infected Extremities: Let’s face it. You’re not a clean person these days. The lack of bathing and the presence of nasty water with dead things floating in it in your life don’t go well with those previously mentioned random cuts. Your fingers and toes might start looking pretty nasty if you’re not careful.
- You actually look pretty good: Once you find yourself a shower, that is. You’re developing a killer tan and the difficulty of feeding yourself properly combines with the constant exertion to give you a killer waistline. Also, since you only have maybe 2 outfits, you’re probably wearing your favourite clothes. Of course, there’s a chance you just look like a crazy homeless person, but you haven’t seen yourself in a mirror for days, so who can argue?
Happy travels! Don’t let backpacker body get you out there!