Friday, October 2, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

The second week of September we went on a camping/backpacking trip with our friends Kara and Patrick. Before the trip even commenced, Nate and I had to purchase a few things: tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, backpack, etc. This whole excursion was the guys' idea, so they were completely in charge of all planning activities.

Our adventure took place at Meramec State Park in Sullivan.


The park contained a 10-mile trail with camping spots along the way. We left on a Friday afternoon and arrived at the park around 4:30 pm. We hiked in a couple of miles to one of the nearest camping spots and setup our tents for the night before it started getting too dark. We only saw 1 person on our hike in, so we were definitely "roughing it." At least I like to think so...

Our camping spot was nicely off the beaten path. After successfully setting up our tents and gathering some firewood, our chef for the trip, Patrick, prepared a nice spaghetti dinner. We entertained ourselves with some cards around the campfire, before it got too dark to be able to see well enough to play. Then we roasted some yummy marshmallows, enjoyed the quaintness of our first night in the woods and soon enough it was off to bed for all of us.

Now, sleeping. Let me diverge for a bit here. When I think of camping, even tent camping, I picture a nice air mattress upon which to start my slumber. But as I found out, when one is backpacking one cannot bring an air mattress. It is too heavy. So one instead purchases sleeping pads, which are basically glorified yoga mats, to sleep on. This may sound okay, but also keep in mind that only one sleeping bag was brought along for the trip as well. And a sleeping bag that doesn't totally zip open either. I had packed long johns, a fleece and some comfy pants to sleep in, but just picture this with me for a moment...

Laying on a sleeping pad in the middle of the wilderness (aka. basically the hard ground) with only half a sleeping bag covering you for warmth. Sound comfy? Um, it wasn't. I spent half the night trying to stay warm and the other half trying to get comfortable and I didn't accomplish either. We tried laying on the sleeping bag on top of the sleeping pads, but then we got really cold. We tried laying directly on the pads with the sleeping bag over us, but we were still cold and really uncomfortable. Sigh. This picture pretty much sums up my feeling in the morning.


And here's me pretending to not be dead tired.


The second day, we walked five or six miles through heavily wooded areas, open rocky fields, and next to dry creek beds. The trail itself was what I'd call easy on a difficulty scale. There were a couple of inclines, but overall it was pretty flat or downhill. I guess that's MO for ya!



We eventually came upon this cave (try to ignore the blur), which had a spring coming out of it. That was our water souce for filtering water and refilling our water canisters for the rest of the weekend.


When we made it to our camping spot for the night, it was only early afternoon. So we had a late lunch and Patrick and Kara were able to find two trees to hang their hammock, which we all enjoyed relaxing in throughout the remainder of the day.


After some more cards and a wonderful dinner of smoked salmon and rice, we all sat around the campfire sipping hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows. It really was quite nice and very peaceful.

That night I slept slightly better...I was certainly more tired anyway! Our adventure ended with another mile or two on Sunday and then we were back where we started. Here are a couple of pictures of when we finished...notice all the cockelburrs on my pants...



I can't take credit for any of these pictures, as Nate was the one that had the camera in his pack. Guaranteed if I would have had it, there would be a ton more "nature" pictures, but Nate apparently wasn't feeling camera happy....or more likely just forgot about having it at all.

Looking at these pictures now after being fresh out of my digital photography basics class, I can point out all the incorrect things about each one. The biggest mistakes, anyway. I still need to share my class experience with you all, but that'll be coming soon!

So the verdict on my first ever backpacking trip? Overall it was a fun time and I would do it again. As long as we have a better sleeping strategy next time, that is. The best part? The totally unhealthy breakfast/lunch we had on the way home. Kara and I split a piece of cherry crumble pie a la mode. I mean, c'mon. How can a girl resist that?



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