Backpacking is a blast! It’s even more of a blast when you have your dog along and are meeting up with people!!! I like to solo backpack, but there’s always an added flavor when you can turn to another person and share how that was almost a “127 Hours” moment. Whew!
Moments that can be caught so much better when I have my selfie stick with me. Yes, I have t-Rex arms. I am forever cursed with only getting so much of a field of vision within my camera due to my t-Rex arms. Thank flourless chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for the invention of the selfie stick!!!
Christina was hiking from her house because that lucky doll lives within walking distance from the trail. Robin was meeting me at the parking lot and we would all meet up at a designated location on the Mason Dixon Trail. The Mason Dixon Trail connects the Appalachian Trail with the Brandywine Trail. This approximately 199 mile long trail starts at Whiskey Springs, on the Appalachian Trail, in Cumberland County, PA and heads east towards the Susquehanna River, passing through Pinchot State Park en route. The trail then follows the west bank of the Susquehanna south to Havre de Grace in Maryland. Across the river, the M-DT continues east, passes through Elk Neck State Forest, then on to Iron Hill Park in Delaware, north along the Christina River and White Clay Creek to the White Clay Creek Preserve. The trail then heads northeast to its eastern terminus at Chadds Ford, PA on the banks of the Brandywine River. Volunteers are needed to do trail work including trail building, cutting brush back from the trail, cutting blown-down trees, blazing the trail and maintaining bulletin boards. For more information visit http://www.appalachiantrail.org, or http://www.mason-dixontrail.org
Christina and I live in the area and we were knowledgeable of the trails, while it was Robin’s first time. What a brave soul Robin was! Here was this woman, who didn’t know us from Eve, had never been backpacking before, but ready to rumble!!! Her moniker is RJ, which is derived from a Rolling Stones anthem called Rough Justice. Oh, yeah, this was no “This is too hard, I’m calling it quits” chick!
(From L to R – Christina, Robin, and moi!)
(From L to R – Robin, Christina, and Moose!)
There were a few streams we had to cross and experiencing something new is always scary. Bad knees and unfamiliarity were Robin’s most paramount adversaries today. (We’ll leave out the fact that I did tell her it’s an easy hike, but forgot to mention the rocky ascents and descents. My life was threatened a few times by her, but she was very polite about it.) At the first stream, I offered to carry her pack for her so that she could get used to crossing using her hiking pole. At the second stream, she declined at having me take her pack, yet I remained close by to give her balancing assistance if she needed it. By the third stream, she said, “I guess the worse that can happen is my feet will get wet” and she charged on without any hesitation. Seeing a person grow in any aspect always does my heart good, and it reminds me that we all have to start somewhere. “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible!” – Audrey Hepburn
We reached our camp site about two miles later. If you’re not conditioned for backpacking, always start small. Your body isn’t used to carrying 20+ lbs suddenly and over constantly changing terrain. It may sound rad as hell to go big and just jump in, but this is where injuries can happen and first experiences tend to suck. Don’t set yourself up for failure, pace yourself and have fun!
(Setting up camp for the night. Always make sure you’re 200 feet from any water source to limit environmental impact. Leave no trace!)
(I spy with my little eye…)
(Overcoming my fear! And, goofing off.)
After our little homes away from homes were set up, Christina and I took the dogs for more hiking. We traversed up a very steep incline to discover a spine of rocks that we had to negotiate our way through. Now I am a total chicken shit when it comes to heights. I’ve been working at getting over my fear thanks to rock climbing. However, my feet will still involuntarily sweat and I feel like I’m going to pee my pants. This part resulted without incident, but then later I tripped on flat ground and almost smashed my face. Figures!!!
(Christina and Moose. You can’t tell, but I was very far down the spine when I took this pic. I had to zoom in quite a bit.)
We returned to the campsite almost a couple of hours later to get ready for the night. As we expatiated about things, I passed around a flask of Piehole Pecan Pie whiskey, converting more individuals to its sublime likeness to the real thing. We talked about sexism in your local sports store. Have you ever experienced a customer rep thinking they would help you out by asking what color you would prefer that item in rather than what model? My pride isn’t hurt when I don’t know, but when I am astute about something, you better not treat me any less than I deserve. We gave each other tips such as how cotton isn’t the best thing to wear and if you really want to keep your extra clothes from getting damp, I like to use a compression dry bag. Moisture in the air can still make its way to your extra clothes and keeping them in a dry bag (I’ve had great trail time with Skorch bags) is a no brainer.
(Zoey just wants to be left alone after hiking and playing ALL DAYYYYYY!)
For first timers, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Granted you should buy quality items to make sure they last, but I also like to really check out Amazon reviews. I purchased a MountainTop 55+10L backpack for $60 and a GKGK camp stove with pots for $10 and they both have done me very well. I gazed enviously at Robin’s Osprey pack and Christina’s Kelty pack, as those are the Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors to my No Name pack, but that’s okay. Yes, I sometimes get label envy also. 😉
As the moon waxed its lunar goodness, as I fought with Zoey for purchase of the sleeping bag (Zoey 1 – moi 0), and we all hollared out “Good Night!”, I couldn’t help but feel blessed that I’m in the company of such good people.
Life is so good! Why not spend more time enjoying it? We don’t have to plan lavishly for that uber getaway. Sometimes, just a quick phone call, or FB post, and an overnighter will do wonders. With or without a selfie stick. 🙂
Much love and Aloha,