This week, grey clouds have closed in over our heads releasing a continuous flow of rain; aspects from the Midwest I haven’t exactly missed. Last night after another full day of rain, it finally tapered off leaving just the humidity behind and just in time to allow Darwin and I dry walking conditions to a gathering. We had been invited to talk to a small group of women preparing for what will be for some of them, their first backpacking trip.
While going down their list of gear they were required to bring for their three-day trip, Darwin and I tag-teamed helping with the details. Darwin demonstrated how to use a stove and we shared our insights on using the hiker layering system for clothes. From zippy bags, trash compactor bags, stuff sacks, and pack covers we discussed the importance of keeping gear dry and the reality of being dirty and sweaty for most of the trip.
As we set there and swapped stories and details on gear, in the back of my mind I remembered my own first backpacking trip; it was awful. I wished in some ways I had gone out with a group of lady friends on my first trip and had been able to talk to someone who was more experienced before hitting the trail.
As Darwin unpacked his pack showing examples of how much stuff you actually don’t need, I wondered if they thought we were a little crazy. I remembered not having confidence that I carried everything I needed at first, sneaking little extras into my pack when Darwin wasn’t looking. I never thought I would be completely satisfied with just the small amount of items in my backpack for even a few days.
Darwin helped fit packs and we laid out a few pieces of gear we were selling, one of those items was Janet, the pack I carried for over half of the Appalachian Trail. After showing off her bells and whistles, she was carried out the door with her new owner, along with the Woodsy The Owl Patch I had sewn on her. I was glad to give Janet a new chance at adventure and glad to set up her new owner with a great first pack; one without a pencil and pen holder.
Taking in a room full of random pieces of gear strewn across the floor and table is a sight that will never get old for me (yes, even me, the non-gear-geek). Talking about gear and giving suggestions especially to a group of lady hikers is always a treat. The smell of used gear, the shiny clean look of the new, and the excitement and anticipation that fills a room where a backpacking trip is being planned is a natural high that is no doubt, better than any a drug could provide.
(The Many Adventures Of Janet, The Backpack)
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