Practice Hike

Back in 2004 (yes, more stories from my PowerShot G3 era), I talked my not-yet-husband into going backpacking in Yosemite.  He had never been backpacking before and he had never been to Yosemite before, so he was both excited about the prospect and nervous that I, the slightly more experienced backpacker, would mislead him in his preparations.

Since I hadn’t been backpacking for many years, I did the only logical thing.  I bought a stack of books about backpacking.  Then, I began equipping both of us.  The next logical step was to test it all out.

I also got to test my setup for taking pictures.  Instead of a strap, I used an elastic harness that took all the weight of my camera off of my neck, which was such a relief.  It also left my hands completely free.

Well equipped, we headed to Wildcat Hollow in Wayne National Forest.  It was the only place I found within a 2 hour drive that allowed backwoods camping.  The entire trail was about 12 miles–just long enough for a day and a half trip for us.

Although the hike started through a grove of evergreens, most of the trail went through deciduous forest.  In early April, just the beginning of spring growth was starting on the ground–the trees showed no signs of life at all.

As we made our way through the woods, we came to a stream with a beaver lodge.  Something was laying on top of the lodge.  We approached quietly, thinking we were going to get to see a beaver.  But, as we crept forward, I found myself wondering what a beaver would be doing on top of its lodge and how on earth it would get there.  I frantically tried to remember everything I knew about beavers.  I was pretty certain their lodges were supposed to only be accessible from underwater.

I guess when people say “only accessible from underwater,” they aren’t thinking about geese.  That’s what was stretched over the dome of the lodge–a large canada goose.  We watched for a long time trying to decide if it was alive, dead, or dying.  We saw it breathing, but decided it must be dying because it had its head down.  Coming up with no way to help this goose, we hiked on and tried to come up with alternative, more cheerful explanations.

When at last we found the perfect site to camp, we discovered how easy our new tent was to put up–it took 5 minutes.  We heated up instant soup on our tiny burner and hunkered over our hot soup cups as the temperature dropped.

We put on warm, dry long underwear and our warm wool hats before snuggling into our sleeping bags.  We slept pretty well, staying warm and dry all night.  When we woke up, it was snowing.

We hiked out with our bellies full of oatmeal and hot coffee feeling like we were quite the survivors.