Using Your First Weekend as a Shakedown Hike

First backpacking trip

Thought I left New England yet here we are. Twenty-four hours of rain, one panic shelter set up in a lightning storm, and sunny afternoons all brought to you by sections three and four of the Colorado Trail.

A while ago (in June – this summer really has flown!) my sister and I set out for our first overnight backpack. If we’re being honest, it was my first true backpack where we wild camped and dug a cat hole more than just once. Glad I brought rain gear and packed enough to be “over-prepared” because in reality we had just enough. So how did our first weekend actually go? Some mistakes were made but all were good to learn from.

Hiking in inclement weather

I have become a little spoiled in being able to choose only good weather days for big hikes. So preparing to hike in the rain for days on end was a little new. For those of you in Colorado or who have heard of the weather this year in Colorado, we were preparing for rain, hail, snow, heat, all of it.

We had rain jackets, water resistant pants (kind of), ponchos, and rain covers for the packs. My tent already has a rain cover but I always bring a tarp to lay under the tent to prevent the bottom from getting saturated through overnight. And the tarp was the savior more times than anticipated!

We used some rope to hang the tarp during a lightning storm (all trails captured the moments of panic running from tree to tree very well). AND it helped provide some cover while we were setting up our camp kitchens and setting up the tent. It seems excessive to bring backpacking, but this is gonna be a staple in my pack from now on.

Panic packing a bear box

I tried to really use my nutrition knowledge to pack enough food and pack it well in the bear box. It’s interesting how hiking definitely throws off your hunger cues m. You think you’re going to be starving all the time. And don’t get me wrong the hiker hunger is real. BUT while you’re actually moving on the trail, it’s hard to stay on top of nutrition.

What’s even harder? Realizing on the trail you brought WAY too many snacks and have to somehow try and fit everything in the bear box before going to bed. Anyone have this issue with the ursak bags?

For people in bear country, which do you prefer? Bag or box? From a purely aesthetic standpoint I like the box to put all my stickers on…. AND it serves as a nice little table to balance cooking stuff on top of.

Overall, the first backpacking weekend was a successful one. Despite the weather, morale was high, and we didn’t want to kill each other at the end of each day!

Section 3&4 takeaways:

– Bringing less stuff for the sake of weight is overrated. Having something to take your mind out of the routine on the trail is worth it. A book, journal, watercolors, film camera, etc.
– Elevation gain sucks no matter how heavy or light your pack is, and whether it’s 300ft or 1800ft
– You’re gonna be scared of bears whether you see them or not, don’t the fear prevent you from getting out there

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Comments 1

  • marsh : Sep 10th

    The broken plastic trowel photo made me laugh. Been there. Done that.


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