Last month I completed my first overnight backpacking trip with my husband, Brad. We hiked the Jordan River Valley loop in northern Michigan. We hiked nine miles the first day, and a little more the second day. The weather was perfect (highs in the 80s; lows in the 60s); the views were amazing (wooded valleys, tall pine trees, some grasslands, and multiple water crossings); and, of course, time together as a couple. I couldn’t have asked for a better first backpacking experience, and I am well aware that not all backpacking trips are as fun and pleasant.
I need to back up, though, and explain how I came to go on this adventure in the first place. Brad is definitely a backpacker. I, on the other hand, consider myself to be a “day-hike-kinda-girl.” I love to be in creation. I love the feeling of a good workout. But I also love my bed, a hot shower, and strong coffee in the mornings. So for several years now Brad has taken each of our children on different backpacking trips while I have stayed home enjoying my creature comforts.
It became increasingly clear to me, however, that if I went on a backpacking trip with Brad it would mean the world to him. So earlier this spring I proposed to go with him on a trip this summer if he could promise me decent coffee and some semblance of feeling clean. It was a deal! We purchased a pack for me, and who knew that baby wipes and rubbing alcohol could be so effective in controlling unpleasant body odors. And since Starbucks now has passable instant coffee the plans were set.
There is something about carrying everything you need on your own back, and realizing that the only way you are going to get from point A to point B is by your own two feet that is incredibly empowering and humbling. Even though we could still hear the occasional plane overhead or the rumble of trucks in the distance, the silence and stillness of the woods was otherwise deep and complete. One nice feature of this loop trail was that we had a campground to stay at for our overnight. Brad informed me that vault toilets, a water pump, and a picnic table were actually considered a luxury by most backpacking standards. Hmmm…
Anyway, I loved the feel of taking off my pack once we reached our campground. I never knew I could feel so light. I also loved the fact that it was just the two of us. We didn’t pass a single hiker the first day. There aren’t many days in my regular life where I interact with so few people. Hiking is not a rushed activity. I suppose a person could try to see how fast they could get from one place to the other, but that defeats the purpose. You have to notice things when you hike–like the trail markings, the spider webs, poison ivy, and the trail itself.
I guess the question is: will I go again? Yes, I will.