Sunday, June 3, 2012

Adventures in Hiking

Gathering Supplies. With water and food the pack is about 30 l
Greetings! By Friday of this week I was so excited about my camping trip, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. Mostly I obsessed about how to pack as light as possible without sacrificing comfort and safety. The funny thing that looks like an IV bag is where I kept 3 liters of water. I also had a sports bottle full of water, too. I drank every last bit of it! 

My carpool buddies, Cara and Julie, met at my house at 8:00 and we were on our way. Next stop commuter lot to catch up with the remaining group members, then on to the park. A couple members had some snags and we didn't end up getting to the park until about 10:00 or so and it was already getting hot. We ended up with 9 ladies total including our hiking host, Denise. 

We doubled back over a couple spots, so we figured we went about 10 miles total.
Before hiking at the visitors center. My last chance at a flush toilet for a day and a half. Appreciate your potties! I don't look too beat up in this picture. By the end, I was covered in bruises and scratches. Also note, I'm shaped just like an Anjou pear! :)

Here's an idea of what the trail looked like.
The trail was heavily wooded and very narrow. The park is absolutely beautiful and the terrain really varied quite a bit. Some parts were really rocky and others were soft with pine needles. All of it was gorgeous, there were tons of beautiful plants and flowers. Jennifer was the sweep (aka last person in line) and since I was the slow one, she was directly behind me, keeping me company. So sweet, I'm glad we got to hike together. Most of the hikers were either experienced long-distance hikers or experienced backpackers, so even though it was a "beginner's" hike, I was still a bit intimidated and going about .5 miles an hour slower. Everyone was great though and really helped me feel comfortable even though they had to wait for us to catch up several times. 

I'm not sure I've ever sweat that much in my life. Even though I drank a liter and a half of water, I didn't have to tinkle once. I don't think any fluids had the chance to get to my bladder, they were all exiting via my pores.  
Really tall trees!
The scenery was so beautiful. The hike was really challenging, I could feel my calves and thighs burning just about the whole time. Not to mention the constant sweating. In my head I spent a lot of time repeating, "Your body will do what your mind tells it to. YOU CAN DO THIS." It's amazing, every time I would start to feel overwhelmed or defeated I would repeat this to myself and suddenly my feet felt a little lighter. I probably repeated that mantra a couple hundred times over the course of the hike. 

At the top of the hill/mini mountain, we stopped to enjoy the view. So beautiful! At this point we were about half way. Don't be fooled by Shannon's long sleeves, it was hot! 

Not sure what the squiggly stuff is. Glad it's not snakes.

This stream was the first water we saw on the whole trip and it turned out to be the only available water source. Fortunately, we crossed it twice and a bit further down the trail, we had closer access to it from our camp. After about 6 hours and many, many steps, we arrived at our camp!

It's as tiny as it looks. 

Once we got set up in camp, I had a couple sandwiches on my uber expensive gluten-free bread, which was delicious, and I was in bed by 7:30. I really wanted to chat with the girls, but I was so exhausted! I meant to lay down for a minute, but ended up just going to bed for good instead. This is the view from inside my teeny tent. :) 

My tent neighbor Barb said I did a lot of thrashing around in the night. I couldn't quite get comfortable and even though I was wearing a big fleece jacket, pants, and wool socks, my nylon poncho was not cutting it as a blanket. Who knew I'd need a sleeping bag in June? 

Once it got good and dark, the coyotes started to howl. It sounded a bit like a track from a horror movie. There must have been a fairly large pack of them because it sounded like a chorus of howls. There was also a very noisy whippoorwill that had a whole lot to say. Think the forest is quiet? Think again! If you've never heard one, you can listen here

Morning came pretty quickly and in no time we were all up and pitter pattering around the camp fire. Shannon, being a complete saint, brought instant coffee to share. Add an early morning campfire and it was heavenly. Ahhh...

Unfortunately, Saint Shannon wasn't feeling too hot and got really sick, like flu sick. Poor kid! So on the way back to the Visitors Center, Denise, Shannon, and I split off from the group to hack a couple miles off the return and hiked to the nearest road. When we got there we copped a squat by the road where we stayed until the rest of them finished the hike and came to pick us up. All in all, we still did about 10 miles over the two days. For a former couch potato, that's a big victory. :)

After all the goodbyes, Cara, Julie, and I headed back to the Lou. I was famished and filthy! We made a pit stop at Hardees so I could get some caffeine and a delicious turkey burger. Mmmm, turkey. After making the rounds and dropping the ladies off I finally got home for a shower and a tick check. Two of those squirmy bastards made their way on to my thigh. 

After clean up I did one last trip to REI to drop off my gear that I rented and boy was I pooped. I love that store so much and bumped in to Besty, who should be employee of the year, and got a high-five! Every little bit of encouragement means so much!

On the way home I temporarily lifted the sugar ban and treated myself to a small vanilla cone at McDonald's.  It was delish and since sugar makes me uber sleepy and I was tired anyway, I went home and took a nice nap aftewards. I'm pretty sure this trip will take a few days to recover from. I'm not too sore yet, but I'm not exactly feeling aches and pain-free either. 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! What did you do?


  1. Awesome pictures. I've never been camping. Have no real desire to do so. Maybe with a cute guy I would. hee hee

    Have a great week!

  2. Thanks Marisol! I love camping, obviously :) I just like to be outside. If you are the sort of girl who needs a climate-controlled environment it might not be your thing. If you can handle a little sweating, it's a great experience!

    I hope you have an awesome week, too!

  3. WOW!! What a huge accomplishment . This is totally fantastic! I admire you SO much. I am not an outside person and this intimdates me but this is very inspiring. I loved the pictures!

  4. Thanks, Holly! Gosh, I'm in awe of your progress!!! Let us pause and admire one another ;) Seriously, you are awesome!