SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – May 2004

An Overnight Success?

Need a crash course in backpacking? Join our newbie and his brooding teenager as they fend off mountain lions, overzealous retail clerks, and other beginner hazards.

by: Colin McEnroe


In the parking lot, for the first time ever, I put Joey's full pack on his back.

"You know how it feels when somebody jumps on your back?" he grunts. We totter for perhaps a quarter of a mile. It's dark inside the canyon and there is an ominous patina of snow on the ground.

"I need to stop," moans Joey. "It feels like there's an SUV on my back."

"Keep in mind we have 5 or 6 miles to go today," I say. "If we stop every quarter-mile...."

But that is exactly what we do, and, at every stop, Joey's protestations grow louder. The pack is too heavy. He never wanted to do this in the first place. I'm an idiot for getting him into this. That kind of thing.

Finally, he sits down and announces he cannot go one more step. I calculate that with carefully applied parental bullying, I can maybe get him another .75 mile, but that won't do us much good. We've gone only a mile.

I agree to retreat. This is especially mortifying because the first part of the trail is heavily touristed by dayhikers, including 4-year-olds and old ladies. Many of them conclude we're on our way back from some kind of "Lord of the Rings" adventure or ask if we are training for the Grand Canyon, when in fact we're the lowliest of the low-the incompetent hobbits who collapse after a mile and let Sauron have dominion over Middle Earth. Many of the toddlers and biddies are actually going farther down the trail than we are.

We keep our heads low, mutter terse explanations, and zip out of the parking lot before the doleful park service guy can ask us what happened.

Since we no longer have any time to regroup, we decide to at least seek out a campground, where we can use our gear and kind of work the bugs out. The next day, we'll start out again. And miraculously things will be better.

I motor to the unfortunately named Wet Beaver Creek campground. The campground has only 13 sites, most of which are occupied by people carrying "comforts." One family travels towing a camper, which in turn tows a little trailer that carries firewood.

We set up the tent and get the pads into the sleeping bags. Then, I fire up our stove and start dinner. We can see that everyone else is more prepared to be comfortable. They have nicer food, chairs to sit on, and portable lamps. We have the worst of both worlds: We're equipped starkly so we can travel light, but we aren't in the wilderness. Darkness is closing in. We sit at a picnic table gnawing on freeze-dried teriyaki chicken. It's enough to push us to swallow our pride.

"You know," Joey begins, "the best Thai restaurant in just about the whole world..."

"...is about 15 minutes away," I continue.

"...and our SUV is sitting right here," Joey adds.

Screeching with laughter, we speed off to town.

"We're supposed to be roughing it," Joey snorts. "You're drinking chardonnay!"



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Burger King moving headquarters to Canada
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
Trailhead Register
Knee Defender Caused Airline to Divert Flight
Posted On: Aug 27, 2014
Submitted By: retired reddog

Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions