#EveryDayinMay - Challenge Accepted!

It's Wanderlust Wednesday! This is quickly becoming my favorite post of the week. Today it's especially fun, because I'm sharing a little about my trip to the Ouachita National Forest from last weekend. There is so much to share about this trip; I'll be posting about it for the rest of the week I think -- today I'm focusing on gear and being prepared.

Let's be honest -- once I stepped foot on the Horse Thief Springs Trail, it became wildly obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. Because I have been so busy with work, The Husband packed most of my gear into my backpack for me. The only things I added myself were my clothes, some toiletries, and my food. I tested out the weight the night before we left, and since The Husband had already weighed it, I knew I was grabbing 25 pounds when I hefted it up and onto my shoulders.

The Husband's pack looks like a monster compared to mine!

The thing is, in my head 25 pounds sounded like carrying around a kid, which I've done plenty of times. Or lifting weights, with I'm also very familiar with. But 25 pounds in a backpack is nothing like hoisting a child onto your hip or deadlifting a barbell. When I first went to grab my pack, it didn't move. It just sat there staring up at me, silently laughing at my ignorance.

Fortunately, once the pack was snugly on my back, with my belt tightened and my sternum strap snapped, it was amazing how much lighter it felt. Having the right pack for your body and knowing how to adjust the billionty different straps may be every bit as crucial as wearing proper fitting hiking boots -- or trail runners, though I have no idea how I would have survived the rocky paths we were on if I hadn't been wearing my super-light space-age boots!

So by the time we made it to the trail, I thought I was familiar enough with my pack to avoid chaffing and blisters on my shoulders and hips. I knew how to use my camelbak, although not being able to see how much water I consumed made me a little nervous. But I had played with all the straps and gizmos, knew were the most important gear in the pack was, and had adjusted everything so that the pack was snug around my hips and I barely had any pressure on my shoulders.

The Husband was using an old Eberlestock Gunslinger II pack of his own, and because his pack alone weighs 10 pounds, his total pack weight ended up at 35 pounds.

Of course, we realized later that both of us had added a few items after weighing that probably upped each of our pack weights by around 5 pounds each.

Some of the gear was weighed individually, but most of it we just weighed once it was all in the pack for a final weight. Here's what we carried in each of our packs:

Me (25lb)
The Husband (35lb)
Water bladder (2.5 L)
Gallon bag trail mix
Protein bar
Protein shake mix
1 L gyote canteen 12oz
Green sleeping bag 36oz
Q core air mattress 21oz
Kelty 2 man tent 26oz
Kelty tent poles 2 26oz
Stanley camp cup 8oz
MSR cook pot 9oz
MSR bowl 2oz X2
MSR fork/spoon 1oz X2
Primus stove 12oz
First aid kit
Small Shovel
The Eleventh Draft book
Gallon bag toiletries
Buff Hair Band
Socks (1 pair)
Water bladder (3 L)
Gallon bag Trail mix
1 L gyote canteen 12oz
Sleeping bag
Thermarest foam air mattress 23oz
Kelty rain fly 23oz
Fuel bottle (empty) 9oz
MSR water pump 17oz
Dog food
Dinners – (2 mountain house freeze dried meals)
Coffee packets
Dog water bowl
GSI camp cup 6oz
Long sleeve shirt
Fire kit
Iodine crystals 5oz

I ended up ditching the book in the truck before we ever stepped foot on the trail, and I'm glad I did. I never would have had time to read it. The journal and pen came along, but also went unused. As did, sad to say, most of my precious toiletries. I braided back the sides of my hair, popped it into two little ponytails, and that is how it stayed for the two days. Very fancy.

Lunch. Yay.
We learned a lot on this trip about what not to take next time -- some of our cooking gear never got used, for instance. But we also realized some things we definitely want for next time. At the top of my list is moar food! Oh my gosh. While breakfast and dinner were amazing -- those Mountain House Freeze Dried meals are the bomb-diggity, and for just $7.00 a pop, I felt they were worth the price. But lunch was a self-made trail mix of freeze dried fruits, nuts, and granola. Had we actually seen a bear, I would have eaten it by lunch time. Or probably not. I'm sure that's against some backpacker rules, and there's always the fact that bears aren't much interested in being eaten by weak, ravenous humans.

Mmm, oatmeal! With strawberries! And... cashews?
Whatever. Food is food, people.
Because we started so late on Saturday, we only made it three hours into our hike before it was beginning to get dark. Those first three hours were intense -- I was moving as fast as my legs would carry me, but there was no way we were going to make it to Cedar Lake in time to set up camp. I won't lie, I was crushed. Before I got too far into my mental beatdown, The Husband reminded me how amazing it was just to be out there -- and he was right. I had a goal that I didn't meet (not my favorite thing!), but I also had a much larger goal that I was right in the middle of living -- backpacking overnight with only the gear on my back to help me along. And guys, it was so much bigger and wilder and harder than I could have imagined. And so much more precious. Every step on that trail was worth it.

More on the first half of our trip tomorrow! Because when we first arrived, this is the sign I saw, and it was not how I wanted to start my adventure:

Click the link below if you'd like to join up and add your own #WanderlustWednesday blog post! This is my first time to attempt this linky business, so let me know if something isn't working by commenting on this post. And feel free to grab the little graphic I made above for your own wanderlust post!


  1. I have no idea how you did All The Miles with 25+ lbs! I often spend a few minutes in the car eyeballing my water bottle wondering if I can pour a few ounces out to lighten it before doing small trails. Everything feels soooo much heavier after a few hills!

    1. I promise, with the right pack, you barely notice all the weight! Mostly. ;)

  2. Hi Kelly, Sorry to be in touch this way but I couldn't figure out your email address. Anyway I'd love to send you some of my bookmarks. Remember entering the drawing when I hosted Poetry Friday? If you email me your address and how many you want, I'd be happy to send them. Thanks! Liz

    1. Wonderful! These will be fabulous to share with my young readers! Thanks! :)

  3. Hi Kelly, stumbled across you on Twitter. So cool to see other people doing Wanderlust Wednesday blogs. I added mine to the blog roll (super cool). Everything worked well for me. I haven't gone the backpacking route yet, but after my last 3 months in Bali and Thailand, I don't think I will ever travel with more than a backpack again. I had WAY too much stuff lol.

    Kudos to you and thanks for sharing your journeys :-)

    1. Karlene, I love your blog! It looks like you are having so much fun on your travels -- looking forward to seeing more of them. :)

  4. First time here...I found your blog on Crystal's blog 'Straight On Till Morning' and decided to come check things out. This is a great meme! Will you be hosting it every week? If so I'd definitely join in regularly. I linked up today with my day trip to Tobago.

    I've never gone hiking like this before, so in my book, you are awesome! LOL Forgive me for sounding like an idiot...but where is Ouachita National Forest?

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