Sometime in the near future the blogger (me) is going on another adventure. He’s going up there in the woods and the mountains to sleep under the stars and carry everything he needs to survive on his back. Because that’s what you do when you packback, excuse me, backpack, in the woods. You take your world back to were it all began. In the woods. Or, if you were actually thinking “I was born in a hospital”, I would suggest you go back further and remember how we all emerged from the ocean or one of its tributaries and crawled up on a rock.
And said, “Where’s the nearest restaurant?”.
Or, at least, where is the nearest restroom??? Because in the woods you must find a place to refund nature parts of yourself that are no longer useful. In other words, like the bears (and their friends) you must relieve yourself in the woods. And it’s not the most comfortable thing to do if there are other folks in the area. It’s different, of course, if you are alone out there. But then, this is another, different problem. You can dig a little hole. Do your business. And consider how amazingly quiet it is and how far you are from help if anything unusual should happen.
In moments like these I always feel like I’m in the middle of a football stadium. The stands are full to capacity but everyone is just sitting there, quietly, watching me. This is how it feels to be alone in the woods.
We are never alone.
On our last outing to Mt. Rogers my intestinal tract apparently felt the same way because it shut down for almost three days. I heard stories about an outhouse near our camp site that were so distasteful I didn’t even want to know where it was. But no matter. My gut got the message and that was “the end” of that until I returned to the luxuries of life in Richmond, Virginia. We spent a lot of time near the bathroom then.
Food is not a big priority on these trips either. Let’s face it, you eat less and you need to go less. And, you have to carry every last ounce up the mountain, so why not fast a little? One of the fascinating things about preparing for these adventures (in the mind of this slightly crazed blogger in any case) is determining what to take and what to leave home. You start out with the worst scenarios, and make a list.
What is the worst thing that could happen? (Rate: 1-5)
1. I could drop dead of a heart attack or fall off a cliff.
What do you need to bring to deal with this eventuality? Nothing.
2. I could get lost and wander around in the dark.
Bring a map, compass, buddies who know what they are doing and a flashlight. Weight? Negligible (You don’t have to carry your buddies).
3. I could get cold and wet. Maybe even catch pneumonia.
Bring extra clothes, a jacket, a warm sleeping bag and a waterproof tent. Now we are talking about some bulk and weight! But you have to take this stuff. Oh, I know, there are folks out there who cut corners in this area. But they can kiss my warm, soft butt (but only before I fall into a deep coma after hiking up the mountain).
4. I could be injured and require first aid.
Alright, we will take a few band aids, but forget the Cool Heat and the Instant Cold Compress. You can’t take it all!
5. You might get hungry.
Too bad. Food is heavy. Bring some food bars, Ramen Noodles, coffee crystals and water. Yes, water is a must. Water purification is important. But you can eat when you get home.
Thirty pounds! I can’t seem to get the total weight below this number! And carrying this much weight up the mountain is not easy. It would be so much easier if I could get it down to 25 pounds! You wouldn’t think 5 pounds would make that much difference. But it does!
The funny thing is that I have lost 50 pounds in the past year. How did I manage to carry all that fat around 24/7? I don’t know! I do remember how difficult it was to turn over in bed. It was a major effort. But no more! This one thing has made all the walking miles worth the effort!
In any case, I don’t see how I can get rid of 5 pounds of stuff in order to increase the enjoyment of this new adventure. I’ve been sitting here looking at the backpack for hours! And I liberated a few items. The tin mug… gone! I cut up a sleeping pad so it only goes from my shoulder to my hips. Did you know that a Samsung Galaxy III weighs almost half a pound?!
I can’t take it. It weighs too much. The Canon SX260HS point and shoot camera is more important. It takes better pictures. Besides, someone else will have a cell phone. And that’s the kind of decisions I am making today. Art trumps survival! And it takes a village to hike in the woods.
But, please, just let me be alone for a few minutes if nature calls. . .
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