Spring Fever

More like hiking fever. The plants are growing, the flowers are blooming and I’m itching to get back into my backpack and go for a nice multi-day hike. Maybe get in shape for one first.

So graduation is closer than ever and I still don’t want to talk about it. I had a lovely catch up with a friend who reminded me that hiking books are a thing to read. It had been a while since I read one (maybe I was scarred because of them) but I got back on that horse this week. Do you know how that felt? It felt awesome. Also made my current situation seem really boring and encouraged some planning forethought to begin.

I read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson and it was one recommended to me by both the friend I had a chat with as well as my grandpa, I’m now remembering. Bryson is hilarious and manages to put humor into some of the most dismal of situations. If you’ve ever been backpacking, you have to read it. He nails things spot on. The feeling of endlessly walking with no real point and missing all the scenery because you’ve begun trudging? He nails it. Every once in a while, between moments of self-loathing looking up and going “Holy shit nature is the greatest thing ever” (sorry for the language) he discovers it. It definitely brought back a lot of memories. Bryson is equally (and reasonably) as terrified of bears as me. Read it; I took it on in 10 hours and my copy was about 400 pages.

I mentioned planning. Things I need to do to get my ‘backpack’ back on:

1. Get in shape. For real this time. Last time I was backpacking for real (like carrying an overweight pack 6 miles a day in the freezing wet) I got my ass kicked. That’s not something I want to repeat in a six day endeavor, so I’m going to get in shape gradually this time. I’ll probably follow Backpacker Magazine’s recommendations for this.

2. Tent train my dog. So this will probably take all summer, but I’m willing to try it. Brynley (my Australian Shepherd) has a well-documented history of separation anxiety and tearing through fabric containers to be free. A $300 tent is not something I want that happening to. So, following Outside Magazine’s suggestions (actually this is a great article you should read), I’ll begin to teach him how to behave around camping gear. Starting in the backyard, progressing into nearby secluded Missouri wilderness, then maybe we’ll make it to a campsite with people around. The ultimate test.

If only he could be like this in the wilderness.

If only he could be like this in the wilderness.

3. Plain get outside. Graduating will give me some extra time on my hands. A great deal of that time will be used to apply for jobs. But the rest of the time I’m probably going to spend exploring. Because hey, after four years of college, I think I’ve earned some freeform exploration.

4. Don’t get eaten by a bear. This is a given, and very, extra improbable in Missouri. I don’t think adding it to the list hurts though.

5. Upgrade and experiment with gear. I’d really like to get ahold of a new, lighter (but just as warm) sleeping bag, and maybe test out some other gear too. Brent McKean at Great Walks? Need any trail tests?? Mostly I need to figure out how to cut serious weight on my pack. It’s outrageously overweight, and I’ve never weighed it actually, but I know it has pounds to lose. Some things I can’t sacrifice, like a camera, but I can see how well I can make my GoPro stack up and lessen the load in less significant but numerous ways.

Basically I just need to get outside again. I’ve gotten spring hiking fever and it might kill me before graduation does.

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