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.

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7 responses to “Practice Hike

  1. when I was young we did that kind of thing, But just over at Norris lake which is in Tenn. I can’t think of what it is close too. But we did the whole tent and open fire to make coffee and fished off the shore. I loved it. My grandma was good for telling “fish stories” lol. We like to camp by water cause we were into the fishing.

    • I used to love to fish when I was little. Then we went somewhere where someone beat my fish to death after I caught it. Took the fun out of fishing for me. I used to always let them go. 🙂 Now, I let other people do the killing for me off where I don’t see it. I know, very cowardly of me. I really should either be a vegetarian or learn how to hunt and fish.

  2. What a great story! Cold weather camping is the best!!! I love snow but usually not when I camp (tenting) and definitely not ice. One of the last times we tent camped, we had both plus a wind that was awful. It is nice to feel so accomplished. Great memories. I love the photos and that one of such a happy Tisen is such a treasure.

    • I like the early spring because there aren’t bugs yet and you don’t get as stinky in cool weather, which can be quite important when you hike and sleep in close proximity for several days with no option to shower. :-D. But, we have 3-season equipment, so staying warm can get challenging. Hypothermia is always a worry when there’s ice and snow–glad you survived!

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