My First Backpacking Trip: Day One

“So Hon, what would you like to do for Father’s Day?”, I asked knowing how much he enjoys a leisurely hike in the nearby mountains and a good picnic at the top.

“Hmm…” After thinking about it for about 2.3 seconds, he enthusiastically says, “I’d really like it if you would go on this backpacking trip with me and the boys!”

Oh, brother! What have I done?

“Uh, ok. If that’s what you really want.”
I’ve hiked, biked, camped, climbed and rappelled. Backpacked for 3 days over 34 miles? I guess there’s a first for everything.
20140609-110937-40177456.jpgYou must understand that Superman is Super organized, as you can see here with the packing list and agenda.

20140609-114243-42163203.jpgThis man is no joke!
He packed each of us individual bags of food. I’m looking at my little quart bag of nuts and jelly beans and think “Dang! I’m gonna starve!”

20140609-115018-42618509.jpgHere are my clothes…an extra shirt, long pants, long sleeve shirt and a pair of socks. Got my hat, some flip flops and a rain jacket.

20140609-115433-42873019.jpgMake-up? Nope. Curling iron? Nope. Shoes to go with each “outfit”? Nope. Toothbrush, d.o. and my meds are all I need. Ok…maybe the M&M’s and Snickers will be good too.

20140609-115709-43029112.jpgReady to go!

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20140609-115743-43063477.jpgWe left the house at O’dark thirty to drive a couple of hours to the place where we would eventually come out of the woods. Rick arranged for a guy to shuttle us to the trailhead. We were greeted by a goat, some horses and a whole bunch of ragamuffin dogs. It’s a good way to start our day.

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20140609-120042-43242232.jpgAll ready to start! (This is my 15 year old’s “excited” look.)

20140609-120218-43338174.jpgAnd off we go!

20140609-122047-44447294.jpgDay One: Get to Ash Gap.
As you can see from the map, there isn’t much elevation change the first half of the way.

20140609-122357-44637741.jpgSaw these cutie pies!

20140609-122420-44660163.jpgHad a few drink breaks.


Hankin’ around.
20140609-122512-44712555.jpgWe make it to Clyde Smith Shelter for lunch. If we so desired, we could spend the night here. Inside is a platform where hikers can roll out a sleeping bag and go nite-nite.

20140609-123046-45046072.jpgWhy are there cans hanging from the ceiling, you ask?
And I quote…”Seriously? You don’t know what that’s for?” Nope. Sorry. I have no idea. It won’t keep the bears away, but hopefully if you hang your food from the string below, the mice won’t be able to shimmy down. Unless you are a mouse who will leap from one of the beams, land on the bag, hold on tight, as the bag swings to and fro and then nibble your way to a full belly! (It has been witnessed to happen before.)

20140609-123511-45311119.jpgBackpacker humor. (There is no electricity up here.)

20140609-123757-45477474.jpgAt most of the Appalachian Trail shelters, there is a journal for the “Thru-Hikers” to sign and make comments in. A thru-hiker is someone who decides to hike the entire AT from Georgia to Maine in one adventure. It usually takes about six months to do. Kind of fun to read what some of them have to say.

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20140609-124053-45653252.jpgTime to check our map and have our allotted two ham roll ups!
(Oh, I kid. We could eat whatever we wanted. Being so well planned out allows you to have the lightest bag possible, which is a plus when carrying a tent, sleeping bags, stove, fuel, etc…Again, Superman is a pro at this.)

20140609-130547-47147577.jpgAfter 30 minutes or so, refreshed and fueled, we begin carry on until this bee-u-tiful spot.

20140609-130920-47360583.jpgIt’s so nice to stop and enjoy the view, especially here at Little Rock Knob.

20140609-131035-47435325.jpgReally…everything is going fine. But as you can see on this elevation map, things are going to get tough. Right after Little Rock Knob, the terrain goes downhill, 1,000 feet of elevation change, for about 2 miles. Two miles…no biggie, right? Tell that to your knees. The guys have a much longer stride than I do, so they can travel much faster. I am feeling a bit tired now and my knees are hurting, but I try to keep up their pace.

We take another break at Hughs Gap, then march on up Roan Mountain.
I can’t keep up. The park service has put in boulder steps to “help” you. The guys, again, can take these steps much easier than I can because their legs are longer than mine. Imagine how a young child takes the stairs compared to you. That’s me. I was dying! Not only were my lungs burning for oxygen, my left leg started cramping.

It got to the point where I couldn’t see the guys ahead of me. I yelled out several times, but got no answer. I kept thinking, “You’re ok, Mar. Put one foot in front of the other. Come on Girl! You got this!”

I started thinking that maybe I had missed the campsite. I did everything I could to hold the tears back. I did not want to be a winey little girl. With each step my left leg would cramp, sending a shooting pain through my leg. I knew I needed something to eat to replace the electrolytes and salt I had sweated out. I stopped and drank some Gatorade.

Moving again was awful. I cried out again, “Riiiickyyyy!!!!”
“Yo!”, I heard him say. I still couldn’t see him, but at least I hadn’t passed them.
One foot in front of the other. (Oh yea, did I tell you that this was only supposed to be a mile and a half hike up? LIARS!)
When I saw his face I started crying like a baby. He took me in his arms and tried to comfort me, but I was delirious. I’d cry, then start hysterically laughing then cry again. Delirious. He got me to eat some salty things and drink more Gatorade. Looking at my food bag, he asked “Why haven’t you eaten more?” My reply? “It didn’t look like much and I knew I had to make it last two more days.” Whhhaaaaaaa!!!!

20140609-133545-48945792.jpgSlowly, but surely, we made it “home”. The boys were already there, so when they saw me they said, “Way to go Mom! You did it!” Whhhaaaaaa!
(This is what you call having a moment.)

As it turns out, the parks service put in 2 extra miles of switchbacks to make that last climb “easier”. Dang.

20140609-134902-49742524.jpgI needed help to take my boots off, because if I bent my knee to pull my foot close, the leg would jerk and I would whine like a baby.

20140609-135731-50251482.jpgSuperman made me some hot tea, got me a couple of ibuprofen and a warm blanket.

20140609-135951-50391545.jpgFit bit says I did 34,966 steps and hiked 14.3 miles. I guess I get a smiley face for that.

20140609-140154-50514897.jpgAnd a smile from me too.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you how we set up camp and all about day two’s adventures.

Thanks for dropping by,

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6 thoughts on “My First Backpacking Trip: Day One

  1. Pingback: My First Backpacking Trip- Day 2 | Merry Mary

  2. Pingback: What Do I Do? | Merry Mary

  3. Pingback: Desert Adventure part 2 | Merry Mary

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