Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Backpacking Part 2: Not another fish story

So on the way home from our backpacking trip, Shauna calls her mother. She proceeds to tell her mom all the bad things about the trip. I comment that her mother is going to think she didn’t have any fun. Then I get home and proceed to tell Marc the very same things to which he responds, “So did you have any fun?”

That made me think about why we tell the horrible things and leave out the other parts. I have come to the conclusion that we backpackers want regular “campers” to realize the many differences between backpacking and campground camping.

First there is the backpack loaded with all your gear.

All that gear…

Goes into that pack. Sometimes it gets heavy.


Next, there is the walking with the packs. Up hills (groan), down hills (creaky knees), over logs (without just sitting down and staying there), through creeks (without wiping out). Over the years, however, I find that my balance is better with a backpack on.

There’s the standard pooping in the woods, filtering/boiling/iodizing water, etc. The things that aren’t part of campground camping.

Then there’s the weather. Oh the weather… This is where this trip got dicey. The weather is the same whenever you camp. Unpredictable. But how you react to it changes.


For instance, Friday night. It rained so hard. But more than rain, it was windier than I have ever experienced in a tent. It was bending the tents. Wendy had her hand on the top of the tent holding it up, and I had my hand out the door holding the fly out from the tent. And we just sat that way, hoping the other kids were ok. We could barely hear each other over the rain and wind, much less the other tents. There were about ten lightening flashes to each clap of thunder. I have never been so scared in my life. The unspoken fears were that a branch would fall on a tent or that it was a tornado. You wouldn’t mention these aloud for fear you’d jinx yourself. Well we survived.

If you were at a campground, you might just jump in your car and leave—or go to a shelter, whether a bathroom, the camp store, the laundry mat, etc. When you are backpacking, you pray (or huddle in the middle of the tent holding hands, which ever works).

The next evening came storm round two. This apparently was the day tornadoes touched down. It took us a while to realize that the tornadoes didn’t touch Friday because, for us, it was so much worse.

But these two rain storms, took the empty trenches running around the campsite (day two’s camping spot was a primitive campground, accessible only by boat or foot) and turned them into rushing rivers and water falls.

And then there is taking your tent down in the rain. You can’t keep anything dry. You tent is soaked. Your pack is soaked. Your gear is soaked. Ugh.

If you were at a campground, this much rain would often send you home early. The people who boated into the campsite, left early. Loading their boats with their multiple coolers, using a dolly to wheel it from their site to their boat.

And then you hike. Hiking in the rain is actually preferable to being stuck at a campsite in your tent. Tents are enclosed, confined spaces that get humid real fast. While hiking, it’s not so bad, UNLESS….the streams are so swollen that crossing them means finding the spot that isn’t white water rapids or muddied by stirred up dirt and you can see the bottom. And then you just walk through. One by one, helping each other along, having water pour over the tops of your boots. Yuck.

Then you get to your last night’s campsite and there are two huge pine trees down right over the spot where your tents should be placed, a stream through the site and the water source, swollen, muddy and rushing.



This is where we got lucky. Wendy was leaving early, and night three’s campsite was near the road. We left her car at the road here and so leaving was an option. Had her car not been there we would have had to hike the last five miles to the trailhead and the van, because staying at the above site was less than safe. So, we cut out losses. We changed into dry, clean clothes and went home.

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Keep in mind that this post isn’t an exaggeration. I don’t need to make it all seem bigger or worse than it was. It’s all just like it sounds. I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

Now, doesn’t backpacking sound fun? No? But you are impressed aren’t you? Impressed that we did all that and we still would do it again? But why would we want to subject ourselves to such torture? And subject ourselves to it voluntarily at that?

That my friends is for Backpacking Post 3. There’s got to be a reason that we are smiling in these last photos, beyond the fact that we are dry and in clean clothes. Until next time…

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