Eric and I went on our first real backpacking adventure a couple of weeks ago. Both of us are avid hikers, but have never done it with thirtyish pound backpacks. We had a week off and wanted to take advantage of that time since we wouldn’t have another opportunity like this before we leave for the trail in February of 2014. Here’s some of what we learned about backpacking:
1) Backpacking IS NOT LIKE HIKING. It’s way harder. But also really rewarding and awesome…..but way way way harder. We could totally see how people start with high hopes, put on the backpack for the first time at Springer Mountain and are immediately plummeted into thoughts of doubt. We are really glad we did the trial hike so we have an idea of what to expect.
2) Potatoes and Gravy Rule: It’s a really easy trail food. You just buy the instant potatoes and a pack of gravy and mix them together into a little plastic baggy. This was our favorite and most filling dinner. Dried mangos are also AMAZING. So are RISE bars. Oh, also, almond butter…OMG. Well, really, food is awesome.
3) Trekking Poles Are Awesome: For us anyway, some do not prefer them, but Eric and I LOVED them. We were able to traverse crazy boulders and other terrain a lot faster than when we didn’t use them. So, we like them and are happy that they are part of our gear list.
4) Thunderstorms are cool, but um, scary: In the comfort of our home, we love thunderstorms. The sound of the crackling thunder and lighting is awe-inspiring. However, when you’re on top of a mountain, and a thunderstorm quickly overtakes the mountain top and the entire landscape around you, awe-inspiring turns into, “Holy @#$%, we need to get out of here.”
5) Unfamiliar animal sounds are crazy freaky: One night during our hike, we woke up to a crazy sound….totally crazy sound. Neither of us recognized it. Here’s how it went.
Eric: “Are those coyotes?”
Kristin: “I’ve never heard coyotes sound like that.”
Eric staring out of the bottom of the tent for five minutes.
Eric: “Should we run?”
Kristin: “I don’t think so, what if whatever it is chases us?” Kristin pauses. “Maybe it’s a moose mating call?”
Eric and Kristin look at each other and tentatively accept this explanation and pass out again many minutes later.
The sound??? We googled when we got home and found out it was a cute barred owl. Yup, we were scared of an owl and had no idea.
This is the sound we heard. It starts at second 8 on the following video.
6) Earplugs are vital: See above explanation. Also, see Eric sleep and you’ll hear another unfamiliar animal sound.
So, to sum it up, Eric before: “Yay, backpacking rules! Woo hoo! I get to use my new gear! Yay! I’m a hiking ninja!”
Eric After: “Foooood, where’s foooood. This rock is nice. I’m going to stop backpacking now. Kristin! Kristin! Hey! It’s sit down time!”