Earlier this month, HumaNature producer and outdoor aficionado Erin Jones took me on my first backpacking trip. I love the outdoors, but this was taking things to a whole new level, kind of like changing my Facebook status to “In A Relationship With The Outdoors.”
I mean, you have to be really committed if you’re going to carry all of your food, water, and shelter on your back, not to mention a pee rag. Yes. A pee rag.
So while I was excited, I was also nervous. The whole concept of intentionally losing yourself in the woods for fun goes against so many of my instincts. What if we come across a wild animal? What if someone gets seriously hurt? What if it starts to rain and we get wet and cold? (Thankfully we covered this one with the HumaNature staff before going out – check out how to prevent Hypothermia here). Hosting and producing a show about humans’ relationship with nature is awe-inspiring in many ways, but it also reveals a dark, uncaring side of nature.
These were the thoughts going through my head as we wound our way up the road to the trailhead in the Snowy Range. We had gone over safety precautions, but it’s hard to keep these thoughts out of your head as the woods grow thicker around you. When I got out of the car and strapped my pack to my back to start the journey, though, these thoughts seemed to grow smaller.
After about a mile on the trail, I was more worried about when I would get to eat the beef jerky I packed than whether or not a bear would steal it from me. Hiking on, the marked trail grew fainter, and we had to rely on following a small stream and lookouts to find our intended campsite.
When we finally crested a hill and came to Grassy Lake, I felt a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. I got there carrying all of my things on my back and no one helped me! I was confident in my skills as an outdoorswoman. I mean, I did step in a big puddle and drenched my sock, but that’s a drop in the bucket! I could totally survive a zombie apocalypse now, right?
There were no zombies that night, or even any wild animals. The lake was still and quiet, save for the occasional twittering of birds overhead. We made chili, roasted s’mores, and played games around the campfire. There were no screens to distract us, no calls or emails to answer, and no sounds except our voices being carried by the wind in the trees.
– Caroline Ballard