I survived backpacking.
When we got home Sunday, I felt like I had been gone a week. I still felt like that after my very long, very hot shower. In reality, we were gone just under 48 hours.
I have to say that this trip was far, far better than my first backpacking experience, aka, “The Death March to the Snakes”. However, it honestly did nothing to inspire me to undertake a third backpacking trip.
We went to the Snow Mountain Wilderness area in the Mendocino National Forest, specifically, to the Bloody Rock Trailhead. (The name “Bloody Rock” does not inspire a non-backpacker, just sayin’.) It was sort of pretty. A fire went through the area about 18 months ago so most of the trees were burned. The remaining manzanita and shrubby bushes were black and sooty, which meant that any time you brushed against one (which was ALL the time, you got black and sooty too).
The hike itself wasn’t too bad. Although it certainly wasn’t “mostly flat” as advertised. We hiked in to camp in the dark Friday night, which means I didn’t really comprehend how much downhill we were actually going. Which, in turn, meant how much uphill Sunday’s hike out would be.
We camped right along the Eel River.
I did like listening to the river in my tent at night. On Saturday, we went for a hike along the river. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on a rock in the middle of the river for some time while other folks hiked farther.
But I still honestly don’t understand the allure of backpacking. I don’t mind dirt and bugs, etc. don’t freak me out (just snakes). I don’t mind spending the day on a day hike or just hanging out in camp, chatting or reading a book.
What gets me is that the activities of daily living – making coffee, cooking, brushing your teeth, staying warm, etc. – are all so freakin’ difficult! To get water, you have to filter it out of the river. To cook anything, you have to set up your flimsy stove. Or, even worse, you have to build a campfire to cook over. You have to wait forever for water to boil or food to cook (unless you have one of those fancy Jet Boil things). O.k., the cooking probably doesn’t actually take any longer than it would at home but it seems so much longer because you’re starving from being outside, hiking or just trying to live during the day, and you’re cold sitting there trying to balance in your flimsy backpacking chair. And there’s nothing to do except sit there and wait. Once food is finally ready, you have to balance your dinner, while still trying to not tumble over in your chair. As for the whole, “food tastes better cooked over a campfire” thing? No. No it doesn’t. Because its nearly instantly cold because you’re eating outside.
We were in bear country so once we were all done eating, we had to pack everything back into bear canisters and trek them 300 feet or whatever away from camp, hang stuff from trees, etc. You can’t even have snacks in your tent! And finally, deciding when you can finally get cozy in your sleeping bag and likely won’t have to get back up to go pee in the freezing cold, is a fine balance.
However, given all of that, I made it. I survived the nearly 48 hours (several of which were driving). I was extremely pleased when I mentioned that I don’t like backpacking, or even car camping for that matter, and one of the dads on the trip responded, “Really? I would have never thought that if you hadn’t said it aloud.” Well, good. At least I put on a good show of it.
The picture below shows our campsite down in the meadow. Note how high we are above it. This was taken on the hike out . . . definitely not a flat hike! I’m hoping I don’t have to ever backpack again. While I didn’t stick to my declaration of “I don’t backpack and I don’t snow camp” when I agreed to be Scoutmaster, the snow camping is still a definite, hard, NO!