This I have learned about backpacking: it costs a fair amount of money to be able to live primitively! I had a decent tent and hiking boots, but everything else had to be evaluated in terms of traveling light…whew! I had already established a route – a trail I had visited before as a day hike. The campsite I remembered was about six miles in, tucked into a grove of trees and bordered by a wide but shallow stream. And I would be spending the night on a Sunday, which meant my chances of getting the preferred site were good.
The friend who had agreed to go with me backed out at the last minute (nice), but I determined to go anyway. I left about 1 pm, carrying 1 1/2 liters of water; temperatures were in the 90′s. Not a great day to be packing it in, but I made it; after about three hours, camp was set up and I’d taken a dip in the stream. (In retrospect, I didn’t need the tent fly, but thunder early in the afternoon had caused me to err on the side of caution. You just never know…)
The water purifier is a genius invention – I had refilled all of my water bottles within 15 minutes of arriving at camp, and it tasted just fine. Dinner was reconstituted mac and cheese (not bad!) and hot tea…yes, the temps were sweltering, but I find a cup of tea to be very calming.
So…what does one do after dinner in the middle of the woods? After hanging my bear bag (containing all food), I spent most of the time wandering around the stream, cooling off and playing with the fish. Spending time in nature is like detox for the soul.
Once the sun started setting, I put on my headlamp and settled in for a little reading; I was too tired to stay up very late, though. Sounds of the night? Bullfrogs, breeze in the trees, and a whippoorwill – which I hadn’t heard since I was a kid! I had hoped to hear owls, but I guess you can’t have everything.
I broke camp by 7:30 the next morning, planning to make it back out before the heat really set in again (it had stayed relatively sweltering all night). The trek back felt harder…oh, my aching limbs!
I’ve already talked with another (more dependable) friend about a longer trip before the summer’s out, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t wait to do it again!