Where is the spirit of backpacking?
Out there, of course.
It’s in the soft guys in boonie hats, sitting and sweating in the middle of that steep pitch up to Ptarmigan Lake, a third of the way to their camp, on the first night of their trip.
It’s the three guys with Walmart packs, and the leader a 5 foot long car camping tent lashed under his lid, hiking fast uphill taking cell phone pics, 14 miles into a 20 mile day.
It’s the brothers from San Francisco, finding out the hard way that you can’t easily rehydrate dried pinto beans in one evening, that summer sausage fried in its own grease only tastes good for a few days, and that their food bags are so heavy their hang lifts a bench off the ground when the rope is anchored to it.
It’s Nick, who just finished the CDT in three months, subsisting on a thousand dollar grant from his college, candy bars horded from his meal plan, and Colorado weed sold on the trail. He’s a triple crowner at 21.
It’s M and I, with an un-ideal permit and a trip cut short the second day, because time on the trail doesn’t always have to mean suffering feet.
It’s me Friday night, in the dark under a tarp as the rain pours down, alone with the invisible bears, thinking about Rob, and getting up the next morning and soloing Three Forks at a muddy 1900 cfs, running everything.
What is the spirit of backpacking? Go back to the top, and read again.