I am going to be honest and say, I went into this weekend with great apprehension. I've never done anything like this. I've camped. I've hiked. But I've never had to stress about ounces. And what shoes to wear. Exactly how much food will sustain us. How will we get water? There is so much planning and thought that goes into these trips. But I loved every second of it!
(Well, except for at 3 in the morning, when I could hear something rustling around our tent (black bear?!). Or when it's 30 degrees in the morning and I had to wash our dishes in the cold river...)
So let me try to break down our trip:
Normally we can hike 6-8 miles no problem. This was an enlightening experience. I was humbled. Interesting, when you have 30 pounds on our back, hiking becomes even more challenging! Oh, and 14 river crossings per day?! Talk about balance. Crossing the river, on slippery river rocks, with current and slight rapids, with 30 pounds on my back. There were so many instances where I found myself saying, "There is no freaking way I can do this!!". So every time I made it across, I was so excited!
It was incredibly beautiful. The Black River cuts through a canyon in the White Mountains, AZ. So the entire time you're along a river with forest surrounding. We only saw one other human (another backpacker) during the 3 days we were there, to give you an idea of how remote this location is!
The neatest part about backpacking is that your campsite is where you want it to be. "This looks like it will have a beautiful sunrise. Let's set up our tent here!" We were sure to set up camp in wind-protected areas, and close as possible to the water. The water was very important for our "survival".
Eating and drinking takes work when backpacking the Black River. Ryan called the Forest Service to assure there were no "known parasites" in the river. So to drink water, we would fill up a bag, and filter it into our bottles.
To make coffee, we would collect water from the river, filter it, boil it, and stir in our instant coffee.
To make food, we would collect water from the river, filter it, boil it, add it to our freeze-dried food.
You really had to be hungry to make food.
What I benefitted from this trip:
It is extremely liberating to spend 3 days with no mirrors. This may sound strange to some, but for me it was good for the soul.
It was also liberating to spend 3 days with no cell phones. Ryan and I have been living in different states for the past 4 months - and have been apart on-and-off for the past 16 months. What an amazing way to "reunite" life "together, than out in the wilderness with absolutely zero distractions!
I learned I'm much tougher than I give myself credit for. I got cut and scraped up. I stepped on snakes. I had a spider crawling on my leg. I "bathed" in a river. And I'm still alive.
Here a few photos to recap this amazing trip.
One of the 28-crossings! I found a stick that saved my life! (or my bag from getting wet...as I would've fallen if it weren't for that stick. To be honest...it was hard for me to let go of it when we returned to our car at the end of our journey. I got a little attached to that stick! Ha!)
We had to take a few breaks to just take our packs off. During these breaks, Ryan would fish, and I would look for wildflowers. I found this pretty "watering hole"
This was our 1st night of camping. It was really cold!!! Thank God for our down "soft shell" coats!
These views were incredible!
Ryan crossing. He didn't need a walking stick like his wife. He's a "tad" more agile than I am....
In the mornings before breakfast, Ryan would fish. And, again, I would frolick through the forest. I thought this view was so beautiful. It was so amazing how quiet the forest was in the morning.
Ryan attempting to find a trout....no love.
One more view of the beautiful Black River.