Veni. Vidi. Vici.

by Tracy Goyette

Tracy and Randy celebrate on Mount Field

Wow, instead of merely a week, it seems like months since I shared my fears regarding this past weekend’s back country hiking and camping trip. I’m pleased to report that I had a fantastic time and cannot wait to camp in the backcountry again. I did promise to share how the trip went, so here’s my trip report as it relates to my list of fears.

Fear 1: I’ve never camped in the back woods before.

So? I have camped in a variety of other, more populated places and the main difference is in the preparation and the carrying. Randy, Carrie, and Kara helped remove this fear by communicating what our needs should be. Also, Randy and I bought all of the appropriate gear that we would need. In fact, some of the setup was far easier than the more complex, larger tents I’ve used in the past!

Fear 2: There is bear activity in the area.

Yes, this is a reasonable and unconquered fear. Thankfully, we did not encounter any bear activity, so I count this one as a victory. I was pretty scared when we went to sleep and it took me a bit to relax enough to fall asleep, but the belief that Quinn would bark and wake me if a bear came into our campsite gave me a great deal of comfort.

Fear 3: I wonder if I can handle carrying the extra weight needed.

Sadly, the answer was no. I was limited in the weight I could carry; however, the rest of the team was fantastic. My biggest challenge with this fear is feeling as though I was not doing my share of the work. This was self-imposed guilt, and the rest of the team was fantastic in communicating that they felt I had other jobs that offset the weight I could not carry.

Fear 4: I fear I’ll be the slowest hiker because I’ve lost a bit of fitness these past few months.

Tracy and Randy setting up their tent.

This was not an issue. I am often the trailblazer because Quinn likes to follow me. I set the pace based mostly on Randy and Quinn’s speed (though a few times my short legs were the limiting factor). Ultimately, I ended up not caring about my speed.

Fear 5: What if I can’t sleep on the ground and I’m too sore the second day?

The first night in the campground was my first try with this gear. I slept poorly. The second night I corrected a few issues with the initial setup. I slept like a baby in the backwoods, with only the sounds of a breeze blowing gently through the pine grove and the sounds of Randy and Quinn breathing. I loved the stillness, and I didn’t want to leave!

Fear 6: What if we run out of water?

I did run out of water on the second day due to caring for Randy’s wound. Again, preparation and teamwork saved the day. Others gave me some of their water, Carrie and Kara knew just where the water sources were, and Carrie implemented a plan to make sure nobody was out of water for long.

There were some bad aspects to the trip – Randy fell and injured himself twice. I was astounded at how well the group mobilized. They swiftly transformed into a Cracker Jack wilderness ER team. Their competence helped me to stay calm so I could be the most help possible. I believe it was our team preparation (Thanks Solo Wilderness Medicine!) that made this work out so well.

Ultimately, this was a magical trip for me. My first backcountry camping trip with a group of people I was very happy to spend time with. I bonded with some very close friends of Randy’s and saw things I’d never seen before (but that’s a story for another time!) I am proud of myself for being conscious of my fears, facing them, and finding a new love in the process. I can’t wait to have my next adventure.

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6 thoughts on “Veni. Vidi. Vici.

  1. Sounds like a great trip. It will probably get easier the more backpacking trips you have under your belt. What do you use for water containers? I use a 3 liter MSR water bag and two smaller water bottles. Also a steripen for purification if you want to fill as you go. It’s real easy to use.

  2. I’m unsure what we used for the larger water container but it looked something like a large clear plastic purse but it did not seal so well. We kept it closed with judicious use of duct tape and carried it carefully.

    We had 2 water pumps with us and each hiker had at least 2 nalgenes or a big camelback, our team spent a fair amount of time filling the bottles for sure. Randy has an MSR(?) water pump which is brand new and pretty amazing.

    We might look into a steripen for future hikes though – we’ll see!

    When do we get to hike with you?

    Tracy

  3. Take a look at MSR Dromedary Bags. Like camelbacks only bigger and much sturdier. Lots of sizes. Check em out at REI. To be honest two nalgenes might not be enough depending on each person. Standard for me is 3+liters. Never used a group water container but I don’t hike in groups much. Good to have one for camp stuff I guess.
    The more purifiers the better an faster. On amc trips it was a requirement to have one. Steripen on sale at rei with nalgene adapter and prefilter $60ish. Swear I don’t work for rei or msr.

  4. Hey Cooperhill!
    We had an array of options for bottles. Our hike leaders had extra empties which we filled at the stream at 1.9 miles (if I recall correctly) as well as the bag. We’ll have to check out new bags for our next back country trip which looks to be like next year at the earliest. I’ll have to check out the REI pricing.

    Our schedule is 9/11 – Mt. Liberty, Flags on the 48 (this is going to be hard and we have our max of 10 already) and we have our final hike planned as 10/2 – Mt. Pierce. I think we may have 2 open spots on that one. Those are the last official hikes of the year as Randy and I are getting married on 10/10. Yikes it’s busy 🙂

    Tracy

  5. Randy and Tracy,

    Congrats! Hopefully next year. No go on Pierce. My wife and I doing a week in the whites car camping and backpacking. I’m contemplating a one-day pemi loop possibly on 9/11 so I may bump into the group. Still tentative. Depends on training.

    Note on Pierce… intersection of crawford path and the mitzpah cutoff (2 miles up on crawford) is a known hangout for camp robbers a.k.a. gray jays.

    Cheers, Chris

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