Part 1: Backpacking 101 with the PATC
(instead of doing both a Christine Says and an Adam Says section for this series, we’ll be taking turns with writing. We’ll be back to team blogging when we hit the trails again)
Anyone who has read the About section of our website already knows that we’re not backcountry campers/backpackers. Although I grew up camping with my family, we were always strictly “frontcountry.” We had a pop-up camper and spent a lot of vacations in developed campgrounds with electricity, playgrounds and hot showers. Adam definitely has more experience roughing it than I do. He did a lot of primitive camping in high school and college.
My only backpacking experience came when I was ten years old and attending summer camp with the National Wildlife Federation (Ranger Rick Wildlife Camp). We did a couple one-night backpack trips in the woods of western North Carolina. I don’t remember anything from those trips other than the poison ivy. Our hippie camp counselor encouraged us to walk barefoot through the forest to “be one with nature.” That was one of the worst ideas ever.
The last time I camped in any way, shape or form was in the mid 90’s. Adam and I had just started dating, and decided to go camping on one of our first trips together. The weather was supposed to be nice, but we ended up having freak storms with torrential downpour. Our tent leaked, we couldn’t get a fire going, Adam got hypothermia – basically everything went wrong. We ended up bailing out and sleeping in the car. The next day, we broke camp and moved back into the great indoors. I’ve never looked back, because honestly… I love a soft mattress, a hot bath and access to a microwave.
Recently, I’ve decided to give sleeping outdoors another chance. I’ve been on so many hikes with places that I’ve stopped and thought “Wow – I’d love to wake up right here and see the sunrise!” So, when we got a Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) newsletter, we were intrigued by a workshop called Backpacking 101. It’s an adult class for backpacking newbies. I’m hoping that their expert instructors will be able to show us how to backpack and camp in a way that makes it safe, fun and comfortable.
Last Monday, we had our first class meeting to go over course expectations, physical conditioning and how to choose boots. The class has 28 participants – all very diverse in age, gender, experience and fitness level. We’ll be spending the next two class sessions doing field learning – everything from how to purify water to how to load your backpack properly to how to choose a campsite. The class will conclude with a weekend-long backpack trip to put everything we learn into practice. At this point, my ankle sprain is still too painful to hike. I’m really hoping it will be healed enough by May for the weekend trip. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
We’ll be blogging about each of the sessions… so stay tuned! Maybe we’ll become backpackers yet!