Backpacking is tough. Don’t get me wrong, I expected it to be tough, what with carrying a 50-60 pound pack and hiking your way to 2,500 feet, then down to 1,500 feet before stopping for the night, but the reality is always so much more real than what you expect.
But fun. In a completely awful way. When we finally finished the six-mile hike to camp, after four-and-a-half hours, I felt awesome. I did it! My first backpacking camping trip and I did it without complaining (too much).
“Slow and steady wins the race,” I kept telling Wes every time my pace slipped a little. I wasn’t in any hurry to get to the campsite – well, I mean, a little hurry, I didn’t want to get there and have all the spots taken. When we finally arrived we got one of the last, but it worked out because it was far away from the small children and close to the creek. Also, far away from the trees (plural!) that fell in the middle of the night and missed those kids’ tents by mere inches.
The hike itself was beautiful and I wish there was more time to stop and admire everything around us, but there was a rather large and heavy pack on my back and all I wanted to do was power through and make it to camp and then play Banangrams (um, the most awesome Scrabble-like game ever) or dominoes or cards. I wanted to set up camp and relax and enjoy the great outdoors.
But the thing about backpacking is, there is a lot of stuff you have to do before you relax. Like find firewood and purify the water. On top of setting up the tent and sleeping gear and finding warmer clothes because holy heck it gets chilly rather fast when you’re not struggling up a 45-degree incline.
The couple that we went with was not so well versed in the ways of backpacking – so little that I looked like a master at it compared to them. And, I’m not going to lie, it made me feel a little superior. I’m not (too) proud of it, but I did.
And because Wes and I had to do that much more to make things work, I had to learn a lot of things that I never knew about camping. Like how to set up a tent and purify water and dig holes to dump dirty water and build a fire. Am I an expert? Not by a long shot, but I can hold my own.