Backpacking for Beginners: Part One

backpackingAs a 23-year-old whose friends are getting married, working full-time jobs, and having kids, it can be difficult to plan time to see each other. So when my college roommate and best friend, Santina, said that her husband, Brendon was going out of town on an extended-weekend backpacking trip with his friends, we immediately planned a girls’ weekend of our own. When she came to visit, she mentioned that Brendon had been trying to convince her to go backpacking with him, but she wasn’t really sure she wanted to. I mean, I don’t blame her…the guys were roughing it out in the woods. My idea of spending time outdoors includes a hammock, a cozy blanket and several good books; their idea of spending time outdoors included a rainstorm, a soggy hammock and no running water for 4 days. However, during our conversation, I suddenly found myself saying “Well, if you do decide to go, I’ll go with you!” And from there, the adventure started taking shape. Continue reading

Summer Vacation – Unplugged

This rugged, lightweight, 3-candle lantern produces a bright light and heats water on top, too. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Our lightweight 3-candle lantern produces a bright light and heats water on top, too. At and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

How many people – including backpackers – go out into nature, on the trail, into the woods – and are completely unplugged?  Cell phones offer GPS.  How many walkers march to the tune of pop music piped into earbuds from an iPod or cell phone?

It may sound scary, the idea of unplugging for a week or so. But it is completely worth it.  Let me share how I have spent my summer vacation for several years now.

Each July, we pack as much as we can into our teeny Tardis – actually a Nissan Micra. It’s fuel-efficient, and very cozy, especially when packed for a vacation.

Then we set off for a camp in Ireland where we will join up with 500 other folks, ranging from babies to “aging hippies” who can just about remember the 1960s! Continue reading

Wilderness Reflections

mountain sunriseSometimes I have to go to the wilderness to experience real life, to get away from all things man-made.  It is a place where I will likely become a meal for mosquitoes—where the unexpected is to be expected—a place where there are wolves and bears.  And once there, I will tackle activities that I don’t always feel completely prepared for.  The wilderness answers some of the questions that we have about ourselves.

Can we cope without watches, telephones, running water, and electricity?  Do we have the emotional and physical strength to handle severe weather conditions, or long tedious portages, while our bodies are loaded down with heavy packs and canoes?  The answers are out there. Continue reading