Backpacking Trip

My family loves hiking, backpacking, camping, and anything related to the outdoors.  We usually go out to California and Mount Whitney  during the summer, but unfortunately we won’t be able to do that that this summer.  Also, with everyone’s packed schedules, it’s difficult to find a period of time where more than one person is free!  So last Wednesday, when we discovered that I had two off days from work in a row at the same time that my brother had finished his junior year of high school and didn’t have any pressing commitments for a whopping 48 hours, we decided to take a quick backpacking trip!

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We made a quick grocery run to get snacks and packed up our packs.  I packed a backpacking tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, food and water, and all the necessary miscellaneous items.  My brother opted for a hammock and tarp cover.  The forecast called for rain, so we sort of prepared.

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I ran 6 miles on Thursday morning before we headed out on our adventure.  An hour into the drive, my brother went, “I forgot my hiking boots!”

Genius.

So…our two-hour drive took four hours.  But we got there eventually.  We parked the car at the base of the trail and started the hike.  Since there was no water source where we were going to camp, we had to carry all the water we would need.  Our packs were just a little heavy!

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The hike we decided to do was 10 miles total, with a campsite and beautiful mountainous overlook located close to the summit.  It was 3.5 hard, hard miles one way, and 6.5 on the other side.  We chose to do the 3.5 on the first day.  5 minutes after we started, I sank into a giant muddy swamp.  Off to a great start 😉

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The hike up brought all sorts of terrain, ranging from flowery meadows to rock scrambles to wooded greenery.

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We had to work on the steep rocky inclines, but nothing compares to attacking a particularly hard incline and victoriously reaching the top, soaked in sweat, breathing hard, but triumphant.

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We reached the campsite after about an hour and a half, and trekked out to the overlook to take in the views before setting up camp and (just me) wolfing down like three Clif bars.

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Happy to be at the top!

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The set-up:

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That night, we built a campfire and roasted sun-dried tomato chicken sausages over the fire.  I had mac and cheese, and my brother made ramen and instant mashed potatoes, which he promptly spilled all over his Birkenstocks.

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We kept the fire going as it got dark and did dorky things like listen to our old marching band showcase music and sing along to some oldies.

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Eventually, the fire burned down to embers, and we went to bed.  It was incredibly windy, and heavy rain hit the mountain around 4 am.  I don’t think I got much, if any, sleep, but it was an otherworldly experience.

In the morning, we woke to find that we were essentially in the middle of a cloud.  It was humid, hazy, and the rain had left all the plant life glowing vibrantly green.  We made breakfast, broke camp, and went back out to the overlook to appreciate the astonishing feeling of being in the middle of a cloud!

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Breakfast: instant oats, maple almond butter, and unpictured dried fruit

The views were even better than the day before.

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We started that day’s portion of the hike around 9:30 am.  The first part of the hike was a short, moderately steep incline to the top of the mountain, and then we began the descent.  It was amazing to see the changes in terrain as we descended in elevation!  Rocky dirt paths changed to vibrant wooded forests, swampy bogs, fern-covered woods with streams, flowery meadows, and more muddy forests.  It was incredible.

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It took us about two and a half hours to complete the hike.  Afterwards, we were so hungry that we stopped on the way home and inhaled an enormous pizza in less than ten minutes.

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All in all, this spontaneous backpacking trip was hard, sweaty, smelly, and loads of fun.  There’s nothing like carrying everything you need to survive on your person.  Hard hiking is cathartic.  I encourage everyone who is able to get outside and away from the city for at least a little while.  I wish I could do it more often!  That’s one of the things I think I will do frequently once I finish my collegiate running career 🙂

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