Hello again, friends.
It’s Monday and as promised I have a post for you, all about my first ever backpacking trip.
So Friday afternoon I headed out to the state park, all packed up (total pack weight came to about twenty pounds, for those of you who are interested in that) and ready for an adventure. Instead of jumping directly into my hike I swung by the office for a permit and a map first, the doubled back to the trailhead. This trail was about six miles long and it wasn’t a loop, so that meant six miles to camp and six miles out. I parked, got out of my car, struggled into my backpack and without wasting anymore time I headed into the backcountry.
The initial hiking wasn’t a huge shock, for which I’m grateful. I had been a little worried that all the sudden weight would throw me off but I held up surprisingly well. I had some brief pain on my right hip towards the beginning (I think all the pressure was sitting wrong or something) but I readjusted and after that I didn’t have any problems with the weight. I certainly didn’t enjoy carrying around all my stuff but it wasn’t difficult. I could still hop up and down with no problems and I didn’t experience any back pain. So that was all fantastic.
After about three hours of walking I found my campsite. And I thought: Great! Now
I can take off my shoes, pitch my tent, and make supper! So I did. I took off my boots, stuck my socks inside them, and left them by a tree.
Then I tried to pitch my tent, which is where the difficulties began. You see, my tent requires a lot of staking and I happened to pick the only spot in the entire campsite where the bedrock was about two inches from the surface. (Apparently our entire area is sitting one one massive rock and sometimes it doesn’t take much digging to find it. Who knew?) That was a bit frustrating. So I had to un-stake my entire tent, pick it up, move it elsewhere, and try again. It worked this time. On to making supper.
This went fine. I made tuna, black beans, and mixed in some guacamole. The singular problem I encountered with this arrangement was that I forgot my spoon. So I had to mix everything up with the blade of my pocket knife, and then I had to eat it off the knife too. I mean, it was a cool experience and made me feel like a hardcore pirate queen but I probably should have just brought a spoon.
Anyway by this time the sun was setting so I put on my shiny new headlamp, gathered all my stuff, and crawled inside my tent. At this point I encountered the problem with going barefoot at camp: you get mud on your feet and, subsequently, mud all over the floor of your tent. You’d think I could have foreseen this issue but it occurred to me at the exact moment that my mucky feet hit my pristine tent floor. Whoops. I problem solved by putting my extra pair of socks on over my dirty feet and sleeping like that. On the flip side of this I get the feeling my gear is all going to end up filthy no matter how I try to keep it clean. But that can’t stop me from trying.
It was dark by now and, surprisingly, I was pretty much ready to go to sleep. It must have been just like seven o’clock but there really wasn’t much to do in my tent. So I went to sleep just about right away… only to wake in the night badly needing to pee. But if I ventured outside into the night the boogie man would instantly eat me alive, obviously. I wasn’t getting up to pee. (In all seriousness I kept hearing weird noises outside of my tent. I think that’s normal…?) So I went back into a semi-doze and just sort of held it until morning.
Alright so one of my misconceptions was that when you’re outdoors in nature you rise with the sun and instantly spring from your bed with a song on your lips, ready to meet the new day. That didn’t exactly happen. I did wake up as soon as it was light but it was cold outside, I was sleepy, and to be honest after I got up to pee I just went back to bed. Aftan hour or two of reconciling myself to the fact that I was alive and had to face the new day I crawled out of tent, had breakfast (boiled egg and hot cocoa) and broke camp. That took a while, so I ended up leaving camp at about nine o’clock in the morning, far later than I expected. Oh well.
But I gathered my things, bravely squared my shoulders, and set my feet towards home. The time seemed to go a lot faster this time, as return journeys often do. I met more people too, since it was a Saturday morning. Apparently a lot of joggers had gotten out of their beds way before I had because they were already out and running. Good for them. I also still didn’t experience any back pain or muscle soreness. After three more hours I made it back to the parking lot alive and in one piece. It was kind of weird getting in a car and driving home in a motorized vehicle.
And that was my trip. Pretty uneventful but in this case I think that’s a good sign. I did experience some boredom but I suspect that’s to do with the terrain and the company- mostly flat and none. I’m from the mountains, it’s in my blood, and while the lake and the fishermen were all very well and good I suspect I’ll enjoy myself more when I’m climbing peaks surrounded by other thru hikers. What I really gained from this experience was a tool: the freedom to walk away from my car, as deep into the wilderness as pleases me, and yet to not be afraid. That’s what I’ve always wanted and that’s what I have now. So the trip was a success. Plus the views of the lake were pretty sweet.
Next week I’ll get into the nitty gritty details, give my initial impressions of my big three gear items (tent, sleeping bag, and pack), and tell you what I would have done differently.