Backpacking!

We survived our backpacking trip! It was a whole lot of fun.

We hiked in on Sunday, and only saw one person until Monday afternoon when we hiked back out. (and that person said one thing to us: “Going in on a Sunday???!!???”)

We listened to the wind rustling through the tress, saw the sunlight glinting off the ponds and streams and shining through the leafy rooftop of the forest. Oh, being in nature was absolutely beautiful. So calming. So peaceful. So relaxing.

It was so much fun watching my man create a fire and put up our tent and make most of dinner and give me the warm sleeping bag at night. We discussed for a while what it would have been like in the “Little House on the Prairie” days, when people traveled for months and then had to build a home out of nothing. We looked around us, and were amazed that people were able to do that from all that we saw. Find their own food. Make their own shelter. Defend themselves from who knows what. Probably birth a couple of babies in the process. No store. No construction companies. No doctors/hospitals. The nearest neighbors were probably miles away. And it was amazing to me to see how Theo was able to create things for us from nature. Like a fire. And a makeshift spear. And shelter.

The stars were beautiful. No lights anywhere near us to obscure the view of their twinkling.

There was time. Time to do things like stop and sit down on a rock. Or stop and read a book. Or stop and eat a snack. Or stop and take a picture of a budding flower. No to-do lists, no agenda. Just time.

But there was one part of the trip was absolutely miserable….. (I’m just going to be honest)

It wasn’t the fact that it had just rained and the path was very muddy.

It wasn’t the fact that my pack was pretty heavy and I simply wasn’t used to backpacking.

It actually wasn’t the black widow spider that we found.

It wasn’t even the coyote/fox/whattheheckisthathowling.

It wasn’t the spider with about 25 babies on it’s back that scattered when Theo poked it in the back.

No…the one thing that made it miserable was the COLD. It never got above 55 the day we were out, and the wind was blowing like crazy. I read somewhere that you should start out feeling chilly. Well, I started out feeling cold and figured I would get warmer. Nope. As soon as we got into the trees, it just got much colder. And the wind. BRRRRRR. I knew that once nighttime came it would get worse. Thankfully, the wind died down for nighttime, but it was a long and cold night. At one point I woke up from a dream that someone was stuffing sleeping bags up my nostrils. Isn’t that the most obscure thing??? I must have been wishing for extra sleeping bags and mixed that with the really stuffy nose…

That being said, here are the five top pieces of advice I can give for first-time backpackers:

1. Take clothing for anything/everything. Yes, your pack needs to be light. As light as possible. But the weather could change/feel different in the woods than the weather forecast says. We were REALLY cold during the day, and of course it only gets worse at night.

2. Take some questions along with you! I found some ‘date night’ questions online and printed it out before we left. We had a blast walking through the woods learning more about each other or just answering hilarious questions. You can also find some great questions here, here, here, or here. Or google/pinterest some! Or make some up! It certainly helped the miles pass by without a constant focus on the pack and the trail.

3. Food, food, food, food! Since we originally planned on being in the woods for two days, we had PLENTY of food and this was a very good thing! While on the trail, I felt like I constantly wanted to snack. Over the course of 24 hours, we basically hiked a half-marathon and I cannot stress how much water and food the body needs to accomplish this. When I put a pack on, I am hauling about 40 pounds with me as I go up and down hills. We absolutely loved our cous-cous and beef stew dinner: it was PERFECT. Eggs for breakfast were also a huge hit, as well as the trail mix, honey milk dough and jerky.

4. Know how to camp. I’ve been camping many times, and most of the times that I have gone it has been mostly ‘roughing it’. For example, I have never slept in an RV. To me, that is not camping. Camping is a tent. And a squatty potty. But camping usually involves driving a car to a spot, then pitching a tent. That means that in previous camping, I have been able to haul whatever I needed and just grab it from the vehicle. Or sleep in the car if it rains…or gets cold. Or drive out of there if I am too miserable to stand it any longer. Not with backpacking. We walked six miles in and then set up camp. By the time we made it to camp, we were committed for the night. All that to say, make sure you know what all it means to be ‘committed for the night’. Set up a tent, light a fire, cook some food, kill spiders, talk yourself out of being scared of all the noises in the woods, get yourself warm.

5. Start small, but make big plans. For this first trip, we planned to sleep for two nights and hike for two days. It would have made a loop of 20-something miles. But we also had a ‘shortcut’ route planned just in case that ended up being more than we I could handle. Turns out that I easily could have continued to hike the miles, but I could not stand the cold. Now I know what to expect, I will plan better next time and go for longer. So plan for a good, long hike, but have a plan to get out- just in case!

And here are some photos:

It was so freezing cold, I kept adding layers instead of taking them off!

Building our campfire…

Black widow. Not okay. Yes, he/she died.

If you have not been backpacking before, you should plan on it. One little trip. It is a wonderful and worthwhile experience! Who wants to go with us next time???

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