Base Camp Hiker

In the last few posts we discovered the idiosyncrasies of thru-hiking and discovered the weight of everything that went into my backpack.  Ounces make pounds; as the saying goes.

Just recently I I did a base camp backpack.  In this scenario you backpack in for several miles and set up camp for the night.  The next day you just take a little day pack and go explore sans heavy backpack.  This is truly a wonderful way to enjoy a backpack adventure.

My two friends and I hit Big Creek Trailhead a couple of weeks ago.  We hiked up seven or maybe eight miles where we set up our base camp along a wide lazy section of the creek.  I was so excited to not weigh items or even care about the weight of my pack that I took everything that would stuff into the Osprey Xena 65 liter pack.  On this trip I took a chair, a hammock, my phone, my kindle, a cribbage board, a pocket shower and my knitting.  I even took a dessert.  This was luxury backpacking.  I highly recommend it.

On day two I just took some snacks, a rain poncho, a warm shirt all into a day pack and took off for Big Creek Lake and Pack Box Pass.  We easily hiked 14 miles round trip with some serious elevation gain to the pass.  It was a spectacular 360 degree view as we straddled the Montana Idaho border.  Then back to camp where our tents and hammock were waiting for us all set up.  If we had wanted to stay an additional night we could have day hiked up to the south fork of Big Creek to some more high alpine lakes.

The forest and surrounding area was not just beautiful, it was magical.  The pictures we took don’t do it justice.  Trying to write about it lacks the holistic experience. I laid in my hammock staring up at the extra tall pine trees that created a high canopy for the forest floor.  The wind blew the trees back and forth as if they were made of rubber.  The trees made no sound in the wind, but the birds were in full symphony mode.  From sun up to sun down the birds were singing to each other and not in an annoying manner like squawking crows, just a beautiful accompaniment to the sound of the creek.  My friend Heidi commented that she didn’t know why she even brought a book.  Being in this magical forest was too engrossing to try to read.  The walk out took us though a dense cedar grove where the sun light and dark shadows created a mosaic on the cool earth.  You could hear the earth echo with each foot step.  The trail is so old or the trees so healthy that all the tree blazes had grown together and looked more like scar tissue guiding you through the forest.  This well worn trail hardly needed any direction though.  If you’re thinking of starting to backpack or taking the family, basecamp backpacking is the ticket.  And if you live in the area, Big Creek is a pretty spectacular hike.

I’m going to quote John Steinbeck one last time from “Travels With Charlie” (see previous posts for other quotes):

“The next passage in my journey is a love affair.  I am in love with Montana.  For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, and even some affection, but with Montana it is love and it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it. It seems to me that Montana is a great splash of grandeur.  The scale is huge, but not overpowering.  The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.  It seemed to me that the frantic bustle of America was not in Montana.  The calm of the mountains and the rolling grasslands had got into the inhabitants.”

Me and John; totally connecting.

And….what am I reading now.  As always; it’s an eclectic mix.  On the kindle I’m reading “A Confederacy of Dunces”, a very entertaining and hilarious read.  I am also reading “The Medicine Bag” by don Jose Ruiz about bringing out the shaman we all  have hidden in our being. A step by step guide of rituals and ceremonies.  And in hardback I have my book club selection, a non fiction, “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe.  A story of a life time of Northern Ireland during the seventies, eighties and even to present day about the IRA and the division of a country.  This book did not go backpacking as it is heavy.  Heavy in every since of the word.  And a little too close to the division I see in the United States.  We may have to rename our county to just States.

More great adventures and book recommendations can be found at Wild About Books.

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