A Return to the Backcountry

Bear Lake
Matt took me backpacking for the first time in 2007.  I'll never forget that first trip because, in addition to being the first time I really got away from civilization, it stormed mightily with hail and wind and rain.  And we didn't have a tent.  Matt had always got by with a tarp lean-to.
My first backpacking trip, May 2007.
And get by we did, scrunched up into one corner of the lean-to as the rest grew progressively sodden.
Matt on that first backpacking trip, May 2007.  If one looks closely it is clear all our sleeping bags and belongings are crowded into that one dry corner of the lean-to.
We bought a tent after that.  And over the next couple years Matt shared with me his love for a long day on the trail followed by a night in utter solitude.
Adam, Matt, and Willie on that first backpacking trip, May 2007
But then, for reasons that are not entirely clear, we stopped backpacking, oh, six to eight years.  We're not quite sure when our last backcountry outing took place.  We developed a single-minded fixation on national parks and switched to car camping and developed campgrounds--though certainly many were still "primitive" with just pit toilets and no running water.

Resuming our backcountry adventures was one of our goals for last year, but failed to come to fruition.  [I took an overnighter with one of my girlfriends last year, but Matt and I didn't make it to the backcountry together.]  As such backpacking made a repeat appearance on our list of outdoor resolutions for 2017, too.
Western Toad along the trail.  (I think...I'm fairly inexperienced at IDing amphibians.)
Last weekend we hiked a little over 5 miles, one way, to the Bear Lakes nestled up in the mountains near Bozeman, MT.  It was exhausting and delightful at the same time.  We both worked up some sore leg muscles from our efforts.  We enjoyed backpacking as much as we'd remembered.  Maybe more.  We slept like babies through the stillest night I can remember.  We let the relaxation of a glassy mountain lake flow right into us.  We ate wild raspberries.
Bear Lake at dusk.
In a world where it seems we're encouraged less and less to rely on ourselves it felt pretty dang empowering to charge up the trail with all we'd need slung across our backs.   We'd forgotten about that in our delight over the luxury of car camping, with its coolers of beer and guitars and such.
Matt on the trail, heading back down the mountain.
This was just a baby trip, an overnighter.  A first step.  A new start.  It marks the renaissance of our backcountry adventures.  This is only the beginning.  As we hiked back out on Sunday Matt asked,  "So, when can we go backpacking again?"


  1. I know what you mean...we used to go backpacking a lot...with our black Lab - Duke...he's been dead now for 15 years or so...and then when our Scout was an active Scouter we backpacked quite a bit with him and his Troop...but recently...not so much...so we definitely need to get back out there...

    ~Have a lovely day!


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