Don't worry, this story doesn't start with us selling our car, disappearing from home and eventually dying of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness. Lucky for you, this is a happy story of my return to backpacking - after a seven-year hiatus!
I never intended to take a break from backpacking. I bought a backpack when I started dating Nate, knowing that he was an outdoorsy kind of fella. From 2001-2006 (or thereabouts), we went on one backpacking trip a year. We would have gone on more, but we were living in Iowa and Austin at the time and there weren't many backpacking options in those areas. Often, we would save our summer vacations to drive to Colorado to hike in the Rockies (what a extreme stroke of genius to move here).
Nate has continued to backpack yearly with a group of his friends from college. But we haven't made it a priority to go out together because I've either been pregnant or we didn't have anyone to watch the kids. Now that Lila is older and Nate's dad lives in western Colorado, we had no excuse to leave my pack in the basement closet for the summer.
We drove to an area outside of Ouray and started our ascent immediately. We hiked up a mountain for two miles, crested a pass, and then walked one mile straight down. I wanted to abandon the trip several times, wondering if it was worth all of the trouble. But I talked myself out of it and realized that I needed to get back into fighting shape. As soon as we reached the pass, though, it was all worth it. We looked down on the most picturesque grouping of lakes I'd ever seen - surrounded on all sides by rough and jagged mountains. To say it was breathtaking is a gross understatement.
Hiking down the pass was a bit challenging with a pack on because it was incredibly steep and rocky. But, we made it and set up our tent right before a rainstorm moved in. We ended up eating in the tent because the rainstorm stuck around. As soon as we were about to give up on going outside and enjoying the view, the rain let up. So we explored the area a bit. It was like a scene from The Lord of the Rings, with knobby hills of green and jutting rocks. It's hard not to love life in those situations. And that Nate and I were spending some alone time together just made it better.
I didn't sleep well in the tent, but it seems that I never do any more. And my legs were super sore in the morning. But I was energized and had no problem hiking out of the wilderness. Nate and I are committed to backpacking yearly again. And one day, we'll start backpacking with the kids. Damn, I love this state!