by Tracy Goyette
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.
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.