2009 Reflective Musings

A year themed by change.

As I sit at my laptop, reflecting on the passing year, I realize that I have changed in so many ways. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Maybe change isn’t the right word, but I have experienced growth.

Many wonderful adventures of all sorts were had. I backpacked through the Smokey Mountains, soaked in some marvelous hot springs, spent many nights gazing up at the stars and conquered Hoodoo Mountain to gaze upon Hoodoo lake.

The sights replenished my soul and brought me peace. Even now, I crave the outdoors, the connection with Mother Nature. I yearn to feel hiking boot against trail while the sun warms my skin and the breeze whispers secret thoughts for only me to understand.

I chuckle to myself as I recount the morning my precious dogs made an escape hatch through the back of the tent, cutting our trip short. I groan as I remember the excruciating climb up mountains, and again resolve myself to be in even better shape next summer. A smile parts my lips while I reminisce of the two months spent in North Idaho with my Mom. Days lounging on the lake, mountain hikes, all attributed to her for introducing me to the outdoors.

Campfire meals never tasted so delicious (even with the potatoes more than slightly undercooked). Stars never shone so brightly. And when I thought my appreciation for this wonderful world could not grow any deeper, it explodes and rises to a whole new level.

As I look at my reflection, seeing beyond the newly acquired lines on my forehead (perhaps from age or not enough sunscreen?), I see myself. I am an outdoors woman, and I can’t wait for the adventures to come!

Happy New Year. See you all in 2010!

Fall Backpacking Smokey Mountains Adventures

The Smokey Mountains are a beautiful place to enjoy fall backpacking.

Just over two years have passed since I ventured out to Skillern hot springs on the edge of the Sawtooth National Forest. The leaves began to don their reds and golds, and I even crunched through many that had reached the ground.

We arrived close to dusk to begin the almost 3 mile trek. The hike was easier than I remembered. That must mean I’m in better shape! Night had begun to take over while I forged for firewood, as the night was getting chilly. SS set up our tent, cooked us a delicious dinner and we settled in for the night watching the stars and the fire.

The next day was glorious! (Other than a motor-dirt biker driving through our campsite at 6:00 in the morning). We traversed over to the hot spring, which was only about 100*, much too cool for an early morning soak. However, it was fantastic to relax in during the afternoon.

The time had come to pump water. SS and I put the girls (our dogs) in the tent like usual and headed over to the nearby Big Smokey Creek. SS happened to turn around just in time to see Moose pop her head and shoulders out the back of the tent! Next thing we know she’s completely free and Doogal is right behind her. Our girls had decided that they didn’t want to be left behind and created an escape hatch.

We’ve never had this problem before. Our dogs are very well behaved when we go into the backcountry. When they go in the tent, they stay in the tent, happily. I’m not exactly sure what happened in this case. Lesson learned: one of us needs to stay behind from now on.

Another lesson learned on this cut short trip, long handled titanium sporks rock! No more stickinng your hand all the way into your rehydrated meal to scrape the last of the goodies.

Despite only getting one night, the trip was amazing. The stars blinked brillantly, autumn’s colors so vivid, everything combined made me feel reconnected and at peace.

Our mishap goes to show, no matter how experienced you think you may be, the unexpected can happen.

Happy Hiking!

10 things every outdoor woman should experience

There are so many things in the outdoors to experience, a simple list can not begin to cover them all. Here are a few things that are tops on my list for every outdoor woman to experience.

1. A starlit soak in a backcountry hot spring. The feeling of peace and serenity this brings is beyond words.

2. A hike that pushes your limits and breaks your boundaries. Challenging oneself physically and emotionally gives us a greater appreciation for ourselves and the world.

3. A gourmet meal cooked over a campfire. Who says delicious food only comes from the kitchen? Savoring the flavors of a scrumptious entree, or dessert, in the great outdoors is fabulous.

4. An afternoon nap in nature. This is one of my favorites. I’ll crawl in my tent, open all the windows letting the sun in and snooze away with a smile on my face.

5. Camping by yourself, just once. To newbies this can seem a bit daunting. Heck, even to seasoned outdoors women this can sometimes be a bit scarey. However, knowing that you have no one to depend on but yourself, and there’s no one but you to depend on you is pure independence.

6. Backpack for more than one night. One nighters are great in their own way, especially if that’s all your able to do. Multi-nigt trips though take on a whole new meaning. I’ve found that it takes more than one night to adjust and unleash the shackles of everyday life.

7. Walk around au naturel in the forest/desert, wherever your stomping grounds are. There are a couple caveats to this: make sure you’re not in a public place and shoes are still a good idea. I know that this one sounds a little crazy if you’ve never tried it. Believe me, there’s nothing so freeing and invigorating as walking around in the buff with nothing between you and nature except the wind. (don’t forget the bug spray!)

8. Skinnydip. Along the lines of #7, you just might not need shoes.

9. Sleep under the stars, sans tent. Falling asleep while watching the constellations travel across the night sky brings sweet dreams.

10. Share a moment in nature with another outdoor woman. Whether she is experiencing it all for the first time or the 100th time, sharing a moment with a good friend in the outdoors is a delightful memory.