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.
Autumn has begun to set upon us turning the outdoors into a new world. Leaves are shedding their greens for hues of golds and reds. Slowly they’ll fall to the ground and temperatures will begin to drop. Fortunately, this does not signal the end of hiking season. Fall is my favorite time of year to grab the camera and head for the hills, or the desert. Here are a few tips to make the trip even more enjoyable.
* Layers are a must! Cooler mornings still lead to warm afternoons. It is important to stay comfortable. By using a polypro, fleece, and rain shell you’ll be doing fine!
* An early start will let you get the most out of your day. Sunset creeps up on us much sooner this time of year.
* Be prepared, have proper gear. Rain, snow, heat, Mother Nature can throw anything at you.
* Sun screen and sunglasses are still important, any time of year. Just because you’re not hot doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining down on you.
* Snacks are a must! Trailmix, jerky, whatever your favorite, keeping up your energy makes for a longer hike. This includes staying hydrated.
* Be spontaneous! Nothing is better than a spur of the moment jaunt outdoors.
* Be respectful, as always, of where you’re traveling.
* Bring a friend. Lone hiking is wonderful, but sharing it can be just as joyous.
There are many other things you can do to make your outdoor adventure more enjoyable. These will help you get on your way.