I was encouraged by several friends who have participated in the past to attend the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend sponsored by the Department of Game and Fish. I thought about it and decided it was a great way to spend a weekend. The weekend includes four workshop times with a very long list of class options. I was given a very nice backpack for a going away gift and while I have used it to travel I haven't actually tried packing everything I need in it to hike somewhere and spend a night. The first class I signed up for was Backpacking which included a lecture to cover gear and how to pack it as well as a hike and then a night in the woods, not at a campsite with "amenities".
Our instructors covered gear, food, training and more for us before we hit the trail. This was our trail buddy, Tessa. She was super excited she got to come along. Can you tell?
The original plan was to hike to a place called Inspiration Point. However, our instructors summed up the class and decided it might take be better to go to a place called Mitchell Point which was not quite as steep as the other hike. It was still a stunning view of the Tanana River Valley! I had to take a couple pictures looking over the edge just for Dad. He always worries about me in the high places I like to go to.
My pack was somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs full but I made it and actually felt pretty good. I also enjoyed it so I think I can get into this with a little more practice and a lot of training.
We hiked back off of Mitchell Point and then went even further down the hillside and into a clearing to make camp for the night. No maintained campsite, no platform. Just find a spot, smoosh the vegetation down a bit and make it home. It was actually really comfortable to have a bit of insulation and brush underneath the floor of the tent. I ended up sleeping like a log. I don't think I woke up once in the night.
The biggest challenge backpacking is cooking and eating. I had no idea where to start with that. We got to use various portable cooking devices like the JetBoil, PocketRocket, and Whisper light to heat water to add to Mountain House backpacking meals. The meals are good but they have some drawbacks. Each package is 2 servings so you either eat it all or have to pack out your garbage. Also some of them had really high sodium content. Overall, they tasted good though. I had Chicken and Rice and then we also made a raspberry crumble to share.
Our instructors had actually left some supplies at our campsite prior to us getting there so we were able to try out a few other things which might not be practical when backpacking but are definitely doable when car camping. Banana boats are a Girl Scout treat....Slice one unpeeled banana to make a slit. Stuff the slit with marshmellows and chocolate chips. Wrap in foil and throw in the fire. Very yummy. A few others tried coconut macaroons. Stuff a piece of chocolate inside a piece of french bread. Dip it in sweetened condensed milk and roll in coconut. Again, roast over fire and enjoy!
I had chosen to have a campsite for the weekend b/c it was $25 cheaper and then that money covered the $10 rental for my next class, Rappelling. Because of this, I was up at 6:00 am , broke camp, repacked the backpack and hiked out of camp to go back to the main area and set up my tent again at my designated camp site for the rest of the weekend. This was my road out at about 6:20 in the morning. I was hiked out, reset up, and to breakfast at the mess hall by 7:10 am! Not a bad start. How come it's never that easy to get up and moving on a Monday morning when it's work you are headed to?
I had three more classes ahead of me and the stories will follow. We were at Lost Lake Boy Scout Camp which was a phenomenal site with wild flowers, berries, peaks, rivers, and a lake to enjoy. I truly love where I live.