Every year I promise myself that I won’t go on another backpacking trip.
I always break my promise.
Last year, my friend Steve got me on video saying I would never do this again… as we walked out of Sequoia National Park. This year was no different. The hiking trip was murder. The first day, after very little sleep and no time acclimating to the altitude, we hiked a continuous uphill 5-6 mile trek over our first mountain pass. We finally made it, but we all felt like crap.
I felt ok, until we set up camp. That’s when the altitude sickness and dehydration set in. I had a pounding headache and I felt like barfing. My friend Brian is in residency, and he made me eat “even if I puke everything up”. Good thing I did – I immediately felt better once I ate. It’s great having a medical practitioner in our group.
After each day of hiking, we were so tired, we’d set up camp, cook dinner (aka boil water and add it to our dried food), then go to sleep. No fires meant that there was no point in staying up. It was too cold to mingle. I felt sorry for Brian… he decided to pack light and only bring a hammock. It was a cold week for him.
We spent any down time we had either sleeping or fishing. I tried my luck at fly fishing this time. $30 pole at Big 5 (where one of our church college students works!)… and about $5 on some extra flies. Worth every penny.
I was really excited to bring instant coffee and milk tea from Japan on our backpacking trip. I thought it’d be really cool and different… but when we got to our first campsite, I realized my friends had brought cool Japanese things too! My friend Nobu had BETTER instant coffee (strawberry latte and mocha latte)… and my friend Steve had brought a bunch of ramen. They even made a type of spam musubi for lunch!! That’s what happens when you camp with Japanese Americans…
Even Mark, the one Australian that came with us, was very Japanese. He’d been on the JET program and knew how to speak Japanese. He had a cool little chair from the 100-yen store in Japan that he brought.
There’s no way to carry enough water with us for 5 days, so we have to stop at lakes and rivers to refill. We had 3 types of water purification: a gravity filter, a pump, and Steripens. The water up here is already pretty clean. It naturally tastes pretty sweet compared to the bottled water back in the city.
We decided to hike out a day early. We always do. But… it may have been a mistake.
We did almost 15 miles up and over our last mountain pass, and down a never-ending trail out to the car. We got lost a few times trying to stay on the trail. At one point, the trail was on a VERY steep mountain and shrunk down to about 18 inches wide (just enough room for you to hike). I tripped at one point and almost slipped down the hill. I was so scared I practically crapped my pants.
By the time we got out, all restaurants were closed. BOO. McDonalds became our saving grace.
So why do I go on these miserable trips? Quite frankly… for my friends. They make the trip enjoyable. The one thing I regret over the years is letting my friendship with them drift. Although I love serving God and the great people I meet at church… I wish I had spent more time in the last decade with these guys. So in the end, even if I’m miserable hiking up some insane mountain, I still consider myself extremely lucky to be spending time with these guys. God blessed me with some of the best friends growing up.