On this last day of 2014, I don’t make resolutions, because they fail. Instead I make an intention. Just one that has been on my mind over the last few months. That is to get out and go camping again!
These thoughts began about a month ago, and shortly thereafter, I learned about two movies, one of which I saw, Wild, and another, called Only the Essential, both of which were about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild was excellent, by the way. I thought about how fun it would be to hike at least part of the PCT. The hot desert part doesn’t look like much fun, but the hikes through the forests look fantastic.
Starting in young adulthood
Back in my late teens and early 20s, when I still lived at home with my parents and sisters, we’d all plan camping and backpacking trips, as opposed to the kinds of vacations where you’d need to book hotels and entry fees for various attractions. Since my parents wanted to save money, yet still have a great time together as a family, we’d plan these great trips to the coast or the mountains. We lived in Sacramento, which is smack-dab in the middle of the state (width-wise; length-wise it is considered Northern California) between the Pacific ocean and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Often I’d bring along my best friend Melanie for company. It’s so fun to bring along a friend! We even went Burning Man for a couple of years (this was in the mid-90s before it became the megalith it is today, but that’s another story).
After I moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area, these camping trips stopped. First I didn’t have the equipment and second, I was focused on other things. I did, however, explore just about all the regional parks and beaches. We’re blessed to have so much.
Then in my early 30s, I took several epic backpacking trips. The first was the mother of them all, trekking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in May 2001. This trip was a total of 18 days and 128 miles long and the highest point was the Thorong-La Pass at 17,768 feet. I had never worked my body so hard in my life. And I had trained for this too, hauling a 20 pound backpack full of beans or rice up and down the hills of San Francisco for months before I left.
But how I was rewarded! I look at hiking and camping as one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. Look at the astonishing beauty you get to see with your own eyes. Those who don’t hike see the vistas only in photos.
And you know what? I went solo! Well, I partnered up with other trekkers. The first half was with an Australian couple and the last half was with a nice British guy and a woman from South Africa the final third of the way.
I kept in touch with my British trekking friend and about a year later he joined me in Thailand for a five day trek through Mae Hong Son, a mountainous region near Burma.
We hired a guide who took us and we stayed with local villagers in their homes. It was incredible.
The climate in Thailand ranged from humid jungle to more cool in the bamboo forest. It was really neat to be in this completely different environment.
Farther south in Chiang Mai, I went on another little hiking excursion with a group of western tourists. I think I went up there for a break during the time I was teaching English at my first school, long before I met my husband. Yeah, all this hiking after my early 20s I pretty much did alone. I met other people, but was flying solo at that time.
My husband is more of an indoor man. He likes taking day trips and small hikes, but he doesn’t camp or go trekking. We’ve been together more than 10 years now, and my son is 9 1/2. I think my son is getting to the age where I would feel comfortable taking him weekend car camping. My husband might even like it! Up until now, I’ve only gone on day trips to regional parks.
So that is my intention for 2015. Let’s get back out into the forest and start with car camping. Santa Cruz Mountains, Big Sur, northward toward Fort Bragg. Eastward to the Sierras. So many great places. Now I just have to have faith that my very old Volvo can take us there…