Time for the Tuesday Ten, a little meme hosted by Crystal over at Straight On Til Morning! This week, I'm sharing ten things from the trail - reflecting on my first overnight experience backpacking. This ten seems to make a great slice of life post for my trail experience as well!
Ten Things From the Trail
- Walking ≠ Hiking. You guys. You guys. When I set out on this trail, which I anticipated as a moderately difficult walk through the woods, I had no idea that I would spend so much time staring at my feet that I would have very little time to actually, OH I don't know, notice the actual wilderness all around me. While it wasn't very hot, I was a sweaty mess from the exertion it took to simply not fall on my face.
- Trail maps are not enough. While the map is important, it doesn't replace being astutely aware of your surroundings. This is rather difficult, however, due to the constant staring at your own feet that I mentioned above. The trail we were on was either littered with huge rocks and fallen trees, or pock-marked with horse hoof impressions that had dried in the mud, leaving behind huge holes of doom. The blazes (marks on trees to lead the way) were not always abundant. We had to be ever watchful. Basically we were like Sherlock Holmes of the forest.
- There is nothing more lovely than a cool breeze. It's amazing how revitalizing that little breeze can be when you're trekking up a mountain with a heavy pack strapped to your back!
- Having a dog along on the trail that runs back to wait for you every time you stop to catch your breath is almost as nice as that cool breeze. While The Husband almost always took the lead on our hike, and Lily stayed right by his side, Grimm would double back and wait for me, or simply stop along the trail until I caught up. It brought a smile to my face every time. There was so much about the hike that made me think of years ago when my sweet Daisy was younger and loved being outside in the fresh air; it was a comfort to have Grimm by my side while I process all the losses that equal up to not having her in our lives anymore. He may be a spitfire of energy and constant silliness, but much about his faithful personality reminds me of her, and that comparison warms my heart, especially now.
- I'm stronger than I believed. With 25 pounds on my back, I climbed my way to the top of Snake Mountain, terrified a snake would jump out from under a bush with ever step I took. Snake Mountain may not be very tall or daunting to most people, but I hiked it, and I'm proud!
- There are no snakes on Snake Mountain. At least, none that wanted to sink their evil little fangs into my fancy space-age hiking boots. Although, I do wonder if my elephant-like tromping through the forest scared away every possible threat I might have encountered.
- The Ouachita National Forest is beautiful, and inside it lies a maze of so many criss-crossing trails that you could literally hike for days and days and never see them all. Definitely worth visiting. I know we'll be going back soon.
- Camping along the trail is nothing like parking lot camping or even the yearly Ranch Rudolf camping I'm accustomed to. Everything is darker. Sounds are louder. With one side of my body pressed against our tiny Kelty two-person lightweight tent, I felt as if there were nothing between me and the packs of hungry bears and wolves that most certainly were roaming the darkness.
The Husband demonstrating remarkable tent building skillZ.
- You will be exhausted at the end of the day. Forget reading. Forget writing. Forget staying awake because you're sure the bears and wolves and boogiemen are out there waiting for you to drop your guard. Eventually, your eyes will close and you will sleep so soundly that when the sun rises and you open your eyes again, you won't believe it's morning already.
- I love backpacking. I love the quiet work of one step after the next carrying you forward. I love that everything you need to survive is swaddled carefully on your back. I love the thrill of navigating through trees and ridges, of feeling lost and completely in the right place simultaneously. I love the smells and sounds (except for those weird killer bird/coyote nighttime sounds, lets be real). I love it all. I already have my pack repacked and ready for the next free weekend, so I can grab my gear and take off for the woods. Backpacking has bitten me, and I am all the happier for it.