This is the final camping post. Yes, it's true, we really did go on four campouts in a row, with only one or two nights at home between each one. It was crazy. Go home, wash laundry, pick up a few groceries, re-pack the camping gear, double-check our check-lists, and head out the door again.
One of my daughters asked me, "Why do you do this?" Not in a snarky way, but she was really kind of puzzled. She knows that I love to go camping and hiking, but wasn't this just a bit extreme?
Well, yes, it was. We were tired. The bed looked better and better every time we came home. And yet...what would we have left out? We loved every single outing, and even more importantly, we loved the people on every single outing.
In case you've lost track...
In the summer of 2012, Mark and I together...
- spent 21 nights in a tent
- backpacked 50+ miles
- participated in 4 different week-long youth camping outings
- organized 3 different family campouts
- introduced 20 people to backpacking for the first time
- and we hosted family in our home three different times, for a week at a time.
It's been an amazing summer. We have played really, really hard. Today I started back to work, and you know what? I don't even really mind too much. Because I really and truly got filled up with nature and the outdoors and family this summer. Watching kids head out down the trail, crossing into the wilderness boundaries, waking up next to a lake (or a stream) on a summer morning, watching the stars at night, picking blueberries with the grandkids...it fills something in me that I don't know how to do in any other way.
And so, speaking of introducing people to backpacking, allow me to introduce the Klines and the fun backpacking trip we took with them last week!
Ed Kline and I started teaching at Oregon City High School the same year (1995). Ed has heard so many things about our adventures over the years, and about a year ago he began saying, "We ought to go backpacking with you sometime..."
Well, "sometime" didn't get organized last summer, but this year, we made it a date.
In fact, the letterbox was right where we had left it 3 years ago! We looked through the little booklet inside the letterbox and found our signatures from our earlier visit. Two other hikers had signed it after us, on the very same day, and then no one else had visited the letterbox after that for three years!
It had a little moisture inside it, so we wiped it out and tidied it up with some fresh ziplock baggies for the booklet and the rubber stamp, and then the girls secreted it away again. I hope someone finds it soon!
(Ella, Wrigley, Ed)
I discovered a funny thing about this lake on our hike. I've been here many times--day hikes, backpacking trips, even snowshoeing. But for some reason, I have never hiked the trail around the lake. I don't know why I've never done that before. It's not a huge lake or anything. While we were camped at the lake this time, I hiked the trail around the lake three times. Just to make up for lost opportunities, I guess. The best thing about those little circumnavigations? I discovered a whole bunch of secluded campsites tucked all around the lake. Who knew? Can't wait to come camping here again and try one out.
Another funny thing--on one of those hikes around the lake, we met a party coming in after us. It was getting close to dark, and they were a good-sized group. They hiked right on past our camp site (the first one you come to when you arrive at the lake), and marched off towards one of the more secluded sites. Best of all, they had two pack goats with them! I've heard of pack goats, but had not seen one before. The first goat was so well-trained that she didn't even need a lead. She just followed right along, carrying her load. The second goat was a pack-goat-in-training. Not only did she have a lead, but her guy was dragging her along with it. Guess she needed to sing along with "The Whiny Hiker Song." She wasn't carrying much, either. Her guy told us it was her first backpacking outing. I guess it's a little like taking the young grandchildren out the first time...
(Back row: me, Mark, Ed, Christie / Front Row: Wrigley, Ella)
Farewell, summer 2012! You were a good one! Thanks for so many wonderful memories of dear family, friends, the beautiful outdoors, good health and a strong body.