I know what you are thinking. Who is this teenage boy Dave and Carrie decided to take on their backpacking trip? Actually that is a picture of me. I know, I look totally ridiculous.
I was a little nervous for this trip (as it was my first time backpacking). Sometime during the "packing" phase I decided women's clothing just wasn't going to cut it. I felt my female clothes would fail me when it came to comfort, size, durability & warmth. So I packed and wore almost exclusively Dave's clothes.
Sticking with the male theme I also opted NOT to bring the following items (as Dave had warned me again and again that anything I brought I had to carry on my back): make-up, hair products, brush or deodorant (I figured I could steal a few swipes of Dave's old spice).
Taking all this into account I guess I shouldn't have been too shocked when I got home, looked at our pictures, and saw 2 boys instead of 1. Oh well.
The trip began Friday afternoon. I had eaten all day long knowing this could be the last time food came "easy," as I might have to survive for months on berries and twigs. (My dad taught me to plan for worst case scenarios.)
As we got off 1-70 and passed through the last town I felt relieved when Dave suggested we stop at Wendy's for a snack. After all I felt full, but not "live on your fat stores for 2 months" full. So I told Dave to order me a cheeseburger, and ran in to use the bathroom while he drove through and got our food.
When we were back on the road I started rifling through our Wendy's order. I was surprised to find in the bag 3 cheeseburgers, 2 orders of chicken nuggets, 2 orders of fries, and about 20 packets of ketchup. Apparently I wasn't the only one in the group who thought this might be our last meal.
As we got close to where the trail head was supposed to be, it became obvious that Dave hadn't gotten specific directions and was instead relying on his childhood memories to find the trail. We had a 3 mile hike to our first campsite, and it was 5:15pm. I was getting stressed. In an attempt to remain calm I started making suggestions like "Why don't we stop and ask those people where to go?" "Can you call your dad, or your brother?" Our cell phone service was spotty at best, no one was home anyway, and the 14 year old local didn't give very convincing directions. So we were back to plan A. Driving around looking for something to peak Dave's memory.
Finally he took a turn on a "gut" feeling and after 10 minutes we saw a sign to the trail head. Dave's reaction was to scream:
turns to look right at me
Um, excuse me? Did you just tell me to EAT IT? Dave assured me the "EAT IT" was into the air, directed to no one in particular.
By 5:30 we were on the trail. We hiked FAST and made it to our first campsite, Surprise Lake, 30 minutes before dark.
Note: the cluster of boards on the far left side in a makeshift raft Dave and his brother used to take into the middle of the lake while fishing.
We enjoyed a fire, hot cocoa and dinner. Dave was understanding when in a stroke of independence, I tried to finish up dinner while he pumped fresh water down at the lake. (Apparently you are NOT supposed to actually cook your pasta dinner in the coffee pot that is warming the water. Instead you poor the boiling water from the coffee pot to a new pan, and then cook the pasta there. I think Dave spent a good 30 minutes scraping out the 2 inches of pasta I burned to the bottom of the pot.)
The number of stars you could see in the sky was probably my favorite thing about day 1.
As far as we could tell, there were no other humans near by. The feeling of isolation was cool and also very creepy. My girl scout training came into affect when I insisted we gather anything with a smell and hang it from a tree far away from our camp (so bears would go there instead of our tent.)
Dave obliged but this didn't bring much comfort. As we tried to go to sleep that night I kicked Dave awake at least 3 times due to unrecognizable sounds. The first time there was a VERY distinct and loud sound of something interacting with our tent. Dave was sure a tree branch had fallen on our tent. I was sure a bear was running his paw across the tent.
The next 2 times I woke Dave up it was because I heard a soft, high pitched whistle sound. Each time he woke up the sound stopped. When he went back to sleep after the 3rd false alarm, I realized his nose was making the sound while he slept. Finally I fell asleep - and probably only woke up another 15 times before morning.
The next day Dave woke me up with breakfast & cocoa. His pancakes were delicious even without butter & syrup. Apparently the trick to cooking pancakes is frying them in oil - who knew? As we ate, and dropped crumbs here and there, we noticed a perimeter of animals circling us: 3 Chipmunks & 4 birds. We tried to scare them off by clapping & yelling, but they didn't even flinch. Each time they circled they got a little closer. It became clear we better pack up our food & get out of there or they were going to attack.
We explored the nearby lake, and then headed out for hike #2.
Hiking the 2nd day was great. We saw amazing views, and took our time exploring. Dave told fun stories from hiking these trails with his dad, brother and little sister. For 3 hours of the hike I recounted the plot of the books Twilight, New Moon & Eclipse. I feel confident Dave could now hold his own in any book club out there.
At 3pm we arrived at the planned campsite #2, Eaglesmere lake:
As we sat down to rest, Dave said "I'm just going to throw this out there. Since your parents cabin is available this weekend, maybe we should finish the last 3 miles of the hike now - and sleep there tonight." Without hesitation I replied, "Done, and I'll do you one better. Maybe we can catch a movie tonight."
I love the hiking, but the sleeping in the woods I can do without. So we explored Eaglesmere and then took off. Before we left, we snapped the picture below just in case Dave ever needs another "senior picture."
We made it back to our car at 6pm. All in all we did a 12 mile loop in 24 hours. Dave took excellent care of me carrying all the heavy stuff (his pack had to be at least 20 pound heavier), cooking all the meals, filtering all the water, etc.
It was a great trip.