My First Backpacking Trip- Day 3 and the 10 Life Lessons I learned

20140610-194557-71157449.jpgFor the past few days I’ve talked about my first backing trip, here and here.Our second night was spent at the Big Red Barn at the Overmountain Shelter. Cool, huh?20140610-195002-71402534.jpgLuckily, we arrived early enough to nab a bottom floor platform. For the hikers who may arrive later, they had to sleep upstairs or outside.

20140610-195209-71529237.jpgThomas even found a way to hang his hammock.

20140610-195953-71993438.jpgSitting there, looking out at this beautiful view I got to thinking….

20140610-200709-72429576.jpg*Say YES! Go! When I asked Superman what he wanted to do for Father’s Day, I never thought he would say to go backpacking with them! I usually stay at home and do my craft thang. Superman totally would’ve understood if I had said no. It would’ve been easier for me to stay home, but this adventure would’ve passed me by. Life does not stand still. It moves. It changes. We can stay at home where it’s safe and easy, but I think about what I could be missing. Trust me….Go.

20140610-202401-73441599.jpg*Get over yourself. Yup, this is the luxury crapper…it has a toilet seat! When you’re sitting there, with your head poking up over the wall, it can be a bit embarrassing, (especially when someone comes walking around the path). But you know what? They are walking on this particular path to do exactly the same thing you are doing! It beats squatting over by a tree and having to burn the toilet paper.

20140611-085335-32015210.jpg*Needs over Wants. All over the world, every human requires a few basic needs to survive. We need shelter, air, food and water. Some have to walk miles to fill their bucket with contaminated water, while others pull water from a well in the center of the village. Some turn on a faucet to receive fresh clean water. It isn’t from an artesian well or bottled in some fancy packaging, but it is cold, refreshing and absolutely essential to life. Would a cold refreshing Piña Colada taste good? Yes, but I thank God for this little trickle and providing me this basic need. I really shouldn’t want for any more.

20140612-073626-27386593.jpg*Plan Ahead. I give Superman a hard time about his OCD/Type A/Uber detail bent on planning, but let me tell you…I am soo thankful. How much would many lives differ if planning ahead was implemented? How many of us can only focus on what makes us happy today? Or how we can make it through today or this week? What if we had a map of what we would like our future to look like, looked at the obstacles, the places to rest and where to find strength and nourishment…then made a plan? Wow! Superman and I have had much success in making short term and long term goals, figuring out reasonable steps to reach those goals and following through. With Superman’s trip agenda, we knew how long each leg of the hike would take, where we could rest, where we could find nourishment and where the tough parts would be. Isn’t that kind of like life?

<20140612-074553-27953651.jpg*Be Prepared.Like every good Boy Scout knows- Be Prepared. Superman had food for meals and snacks, first aid for blisters and sore muscles, shelter for cold and rain. We don’t really know what exactly our future holds. Are we prepared? Mary Claire’s car needs some repair. Thank goodness she was taught to have an emergency fund. She can have her car fixed without stress.

a href=”;20140612-075156-28316471.jpg*Slow is OK.As I mentioned before, the guys walk much faster than I do. Sometimes I feel like they are just trying to get from point A to point B as fast as they can. Heads are down and feet are moving. I like to go a little bit slower sometimes with my head up and soak in what’s going on around me. Just to take the time to listen to the birds chattering away, see the salamander crawling into the leaves, and watching the flower unfold its petals. I know that on some level we are on a sort of time schedule, but taking the time to slow down, look, listen and be engaged in our surroundings is so powerful. Maybe it’s turning off the tv at night and watching the lightening bugs and listening to the frogs and crickets sing.

20140612-080017-28817646.jpg*Dogs are God’s happy therapy. When I’m tired, stressed, sad, sick or lonely, petting a dog makes me happy. It doesn’t have to be my dog. Any old dog will do. There was a six month old puppy that stayed the night at the barn, whose owners were training it to be a hunting dog. As usual, I ruined all six months of training in a bout 30 seconds or less. Sweet Maggie would roll over to have her belly rubbed whenever she saw me. And this black and white dog, Zoe, gave me much needed love as I scratched her behind her ears and massaged her back. I can’t live without a dog.

20140612-081046-29446416.jpg*Sometimes you need to look back to see how far you’ve come.At mile 7 or 8 of the uphill climb, my knees and feet were screaming to stop. My heart was beating in my head so loudly, I could barely hear myself think. But when I would look back and see how how far I had already come, I’d get a renewed sense of energy. I know people who will wallow in their present pain, forgetting the valleys of trouble they just got through. Much like the Israelites who complained about having to eat manna after being rescued from their enemies. Look back. Appreciate the work you’ve done to get through that passage and move on.

20140612-133201-48721832.jpg*The world is full of Characters.There was the guy wearing a kilt on his hike. And the Jersey boy who carried a gallon jug full of water and his white full-size pillow off his bed to sleep with. There were folks trail running the same route. (Yes, running!) The mom of the Zoe, the dog, was traveling by herself. All sorts of shapes, sizes and ages cross the paths of the journey. These two guys were thru hikers. The one on the left is from Israel and the other is from Texas. Everyone is different and for the most part…very, very nice.

20140612-143354-52434606.jpg*Make time for the ones you love. Life gets hectic, stressful and neglected. It’s so easy to take the ones we love most for granted. Every relationship requires time and effort. I truly believe that we have to get rid of the distractions, phones, Internet, tv and just focus on the ones we’re with. Solid relationships require talking, listening and being completely there. Trips like this three day backpacking trip are the building blocks of our family. We talked and listened. We laughed and cried. We shared our loads, shared our dreams. Most importantly, we have each other.

20140612-145331-53611889.jpgSo folks….I did it! Backpacking for 3 days over 34 miles of extreme terrain. I pushed myself and found that I might be stronger than I first thought.

20140612-145634-53794415.jpgFor the next Higgins adventure…Lawn Mower Racing anyone? (Sign in the window of the BBQ restaurant we ravaged when we got out of the woods.)

Thanks for dropping by!


My First Backpacking Trip- Day 2

20140610-080507-29107877.jpgYesterday, I left you sipping a hot cup of tea, trying to recover from a looonnnngggg day of hiking.20140610-080842-29322066.jpgThis is where we camped for the night. I was really quite thrilled that we were the only ones there. Superman, Adam and I snuggled up in the tent, which turned out not to be very comfortable. I think Adam and I tossed and turned every 15 minutes. Superman was thoughtful in giving me the sleeping bag, but didn’t realize the blanket he had for himself wasn’t long enough to cover his knees. So he woke up in the middle of the night rustling about, with the headlamp on, digging around for some clothes to put on. At night the wind whips up and the temperature drops pretty quickly.

20140610-081233-29553499.jpgThomas was straight, stringing his Enu between two trees, putting a sleeping pad to insulate from the bottom and wrapping up in a 30 degree sleeping bag.

20140610-082844-30524599.jpgBedrooms are all set, now it’s time for the kitchen. Superman has his fancy pot and Snow Peak stove/fuel. Amazing what one pot and some water can do to fill you up.

20140610-083120-30680429.jpgDinner options: Chicken Risotto, Chili Mac, Jerk Chicken or Mac n’ Cheese?

20140610-083245-30765049.jpgWhile waiting for the water to boil, we snack on some hooti-erbs, (or as some of you more sophisticated may say, appetizers.) When backpacking, one must consider weight and freshness. Apples? Too heavy. Cheese? Good for first day.

20140610-084003-31203412.jpgThe boiling water is poured directly into the bag, stirred, then bag is sealed to let food rehydrate. To keep from having to waste water by cleaning dishes and pots, we all just ate out of the bag!

20140610-084233-31353917.jpgAs every good Boy Scout knows, when handling a knife, be aware of the “blood circle”. (I have total respect for this idea after seeing a bunch of knuckleheaded 10 year old boys running around with pocket knives, but when my guys explained it, I died laughing.) The Blood Circle is the arms length area around you that could possibly cut someone if you have a knife in your hand. So here is Thomas demonstrating this safety measure.

20140610-085014-31814695.jpgBefore retiring to our sleeping quarters, we had to tie up a “bear bag”. Bears have a highly sensitive sense of smell and can sniff out peanut butter and granola bars from miles away. The bears don’t care that your food is the tent, they’ll get through the nylon tent like its Saran Wrap.

20140610-085648-32208642.jpgSo you put all the food in a sac and tie it high in a tree. Our only problem was finding a tree with a strong limb that stuck out. Luckily, we weren’t too concerned about the bears.

20140610-085932-32372319.jpgDay 2 we arose to chilly temperatures that warmed up quickly. Breaking down camp was quick and easy, so after two cups of coffee we were ready to go. Our shuttle driver warned us about a bike race that would be happening when we got to Carver’s Gap, so we were hoping to see a hot dog stand.


20140610-090335-32615898.jpgThe entire 3.5 mile hike to Carvers Gap, we talked about how good a hot dog would taste.

20140610-090519-32719240.jpgYes, the rhododendrums and the surrounding area was gorgeous…..but mmmmm….hot dogs….

20140610-090842-32922001.jpgAs we hiked out of the woods at Carvers Gap we heard lots of cheering.

“For me?!?”

Ok. Maybe not.

20140610-091007-33007668.jpgThere was a toilet! But no hot dogs.

20140610-091046-33046090.jpgWe pressed on.


20140610-091238-33158936.jpgWe hiked through an area where the Cloudland Hotel used to stand in the 1880’s, but was taken down in the 1920’s.



20140610-091819-33499797.jpgThis area is known for its Flame Azaleas. I’ve never seen this color before! Absolutely beautiful!



20140610-091935-33575523.jpgJane Bald is a good spot for a break. Even the birds snack on Cheetos.


20140610-092033-33633511.jpgAfter hiking through the forest all day yesterday, today feels like we’re in a totally different country.

20140610-092406-33846566.jpgAt the Stan Murray Shelter we met up some friendly hikers. Sometimes we just need to love on a dog to keep us going.

20140610-094056-34856469.jpgEven the woods are a sight to behold with the lush vegetation.

20140610-094154-34914372.jpgBut seeing this Big Red Barn was heaven to my eyes! This is where we would sleep for the night.

20140610-094302-34982068.jpgThe FitBit says I hiked 10.9 miles and I believe it.

20140610-094345-35025941.jpgI know you don’t want to see this, but yes that is my toenail that has popped off on my left foot. Ouch!

20140610-094443-35083682.jpgYup, I’m pooped. Yea, my feet hurt. But with a hot cup of tea, 2 ibuprophen, a Twix Bar, my flip flops and this view! I am good.

The end of day 2. I’ll finish up tomorrow telling you about this adventure of mine. I’ve even come up with a top 10 list of things I learned from my first backpacking experience, which I know you won’t want to miss!

Thanks for dropping by