Caroling (front) by Mary E. Thurman
At the start of the trip. From the group photo by Ron Peterson.

Old Woman's Last Backpacking Trip

Caroling weary by Mary E. Thurman

On January 24-25, 2012 I went on a Leave No Trace training event sponsored by the Florida Trail Association. I've wanted to do a backpacking trip for years. That is, carrying a pack on my back with all that I need to camp out overnight into a wild area and sleep, cook and care for myself. Really get back to nature. I've had the backpack since 1975 when I climbed Mt. Shasta. I especially wanted to take my grandsons backpacking the next summer. I can't remember when I did the last overnight on foot, although I've camped out a few times each year, I've been near transportation. I also hike regularly and can do five miles easily. The photo above is at the start of the trip where I'm looking forward to starting on the trail.

I was not prepared for hiking carrying 30 pounds of weight. My hips hurt unbearably. I felt like I was grinding down the last of the already split cartilages in my knees. Each step was a surge of pain. In the photo to the right, the first day, I'm loaded up with tan pack on the old external frame with the air mattress and tent attached in separate bags. I'm leaning on the hiking poles that helped a lot. I look completely miserable.

Caroling by Mary Thurman The photo on the left is the next day. FTA Mike offered to carry the tent and we had eaten the food I was carrying, so the load was 10 lbs. lighter. That was better.

Strange to say, at the same time I intensely enjoyed every minute of being outdoors and free in this wonderful place, the Econfina Creek. The Leave No Trace training was helping me feel the meaning of being out there more deeply than I had ever imagined. Each person there was a unique treasure. Each was a nature lover and dedicated to how we can make such trips better for everyone and everything wild.

Thanks to Mary E. Thurman for letting me use her photos to the right and left. Thanks to Ron for the photo above. See all of our photos on the Meetup site.

I'd like to leave this life function with great gratitude for the memorable backpacking that I have done. I couldn't guess the value that each trip brought to so many aspects of my life. My message is to do it while you can. It is very worth it. Here are links to two personal journeys that I've documented:

Mt. Shasta and the Galaxy People

On the Way to Machu Picchu

See Econfina Creek background info on the 2008 page and Econfina 2012.

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