Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning to Camp/Backpack!

Our little campsite in the Wilds of Pennsylvania!

A little creek (or "crick", as my Mom would call it!)

Heading out!

The pack looks bigger than me, doesn't it?

A butterfly wing we found.

Since we're planning on doing some hiking and backpacking for the honeymoon, we decided that we should get out and get camping, especially since I have never backpacked before. The last time I can remember camping was a little bit of car camping sometime in college. Nothing too crazy. Turns out I am marrying the crazy camping guy :) Alex grew up in the Boy Scouts and he avidly camped and hiked and mountain biked growing up. Boy, do I have a lot to learn! You might wonder why, when we've been dating since 2006, we haven't ever been camping together? I asked myself the same thing! I think the biggest reason is that we don't have a car. And, living in a city, it's a bit hard to access the wide open spaces to camp in. Most times when we rent a car, it turns into a trip to all the necessary places: Target, Wal-mart, and the really nice movie theatres in the suburbs! It also turns out that, while Colorado and California have lots of wide open spaces and National Forests, Pennsylvania has lots of "State Game Lands", which are not allowed to be used for camping. So, we ended up driving up to North Central Pennsylvania (they literally call it "The Wilds"!) and we set out to find a place to backpack and camp for the night. Turns out, we did everything wrong! Whoops! We started out hiking up a hill pretty close to dusk. Our maps said there was lots of streams where we were headed, so that looked like a nice place to head to. Well, the path that we took was steep! Wowee! We both remarked how we thought that Pennsylvania had little hills, not real mountains (since the elevations in Pennsylvania are at least 1/4th of the elevations of the mountains in California and Colorado), but it turns out the mountains here are just as steep! We ended up hiking up nearly 1000 vertical feet, looking for a stream (and finding some bear scat along the way - eek!) and weirdly enough, no water. In the meantime, I was struggling with my pack, having a hard time balancing and getting my legs to carry me and the pack up the hill. Alex came over to me at one point and helped me rebalance things out a bit. Turns out my pack was quite heavy, so we ended up switching packs, which helped out a lot. We ended up descending the mountain we had just climbed and finally found a little creek to camp by, which was lovely. We made it there just in time to start up the stove, make some dinner and get into the tent and try to sleep. Turns out, I can't sleep in the Wilds of Pennsylvania. Every twig snap, every leaf rustle had me thinking, "What was that??!!" I imagined all kinds of wild animals, even at one point thinking, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" until I feel into a fitful few hours of sleep. I was the happiest person to see that sun come up! We hiked out along a nicer path (thankfully, no hills!) and we took a nice hike that day, after ditching the packs in the car. I must say, it was an adventure and we both had a lot of fun. The best thing? We learned a lot, and are hopefully on our way to being prepared for our trip to Yosemite!

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