It’s been a while since I’ve actually packed up my pack and gone on a solid backpacking trip. I think the last time was back in 2013, maybe? And even then, it was a solo excursion – no group shenanigans for me. Just a man in the wild, alone with nothing but his wits and a ton of random gear to keep him safe.
So going backpacking with a group of five was definitely a new experience for me, especially since we’d be exploring the mountains of the West Coast…
Friday was a simple day – Sarah and I had most of our gear packed independently, so we just took a bit of the evening to review what we’d packed, make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, and distribute the group gear between ourselves. That’s something I’ll have to get used to – not having to carry an entire tent for just myself, and not having to have a complete cook set for just myself. Getting to split the weight is really a nice bonus, though figuring out food for multiple people is definitely a new challenge for me.
Saturday… well, it started early.
We met up with Dave at his house at 6:30, so that we could get the long drive done before the afternoon really got going. But that meant that we had to get going painfully early… which is clearly always cured via delicious breakfasts.
We hit Carl Jr’s instead. It wasn’t bad. But please believe me when I say it wasn’t ideal either. Greasy delicious fast food is amazing in the moment, but fast forward a few hours when you’re still in the car… well, it was the best we had, and I’m not complaining. The burger was definitely tasty, and the coffee woke us up. So that’s what matters.
Our goal was Yreka, a town that Mike & Liz & I had camped in back during my roadtrip. Kinda crazy thing – I actually remembered a lot about the town, and was able to safely and successfully navigate the group to find the ranger station. See, we needed to get a fire permit (even for campstoves) due to the obscene fire danger in California. We didn’t find one there, of course, but it was a solid starting point.
We found a place to get the permit, realized that everyone was at lunch right around the time that we realized that we were wandering into the back office of a fire station, and got ourselves a permit.
We linked up with Sharia and Josh, Sarah’s friends who were joining us. We drove up the trail, parked, put our packs on our backs, and started into the trail.
Thing about backpacking – it’s a lot of walking. The overarching trip makes for a good story… but the meat comes from campsites and summits. Not really the walk itself…
That being said, it was beautiful, and I had lots of excellent photo opportunities.
There was hiking.
There was, in fact, more hiking.
We found a lake! It was very pretty!
We found a boulder field. It was very steep!
I got tired. I kept climbing up the boulder field for, by my estimate, forever. I stayed tired.
Then, we hit the ridgeline. My brain exploded a little. You know those pictures of mountains that you see in Patagonia ads? Yeah. I think this was literally one of those places. This was the kind of scenery that I’d been waiting for my whole life. When I started backpacking, these views were what I wanted.
Hang out, take in the sights, split up the campsites and relax. We all heated up a bit of dinner dinner, stargazed for a bit, and headed to bed with the best views ever right outside our tents.