Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain, Pain, and Memories Gained

Last week, I went backpacking for the first time. It was terrific!

Daddy took my best friends (a.k.a. sisters), Kyla, Kelsey and I up to Washington where we joined up with Mr. Altmyer and his three girls. The Altmyers were so prepared and provided us with sweet backpacks (like, the real deal), blue rain suits (also the real deal), tents, sleeping bags, and the other "camping essentials." 
Daddy, Mr. Altmyer, and a bunch of smurfs heading into the wild

We stopped by the store to pick up some hot dogs, and ended up spending 15 minutes deciding what chili to buy--I never knew there were so many different kinds--then, armed with canned peaches, pop corn, hot dogs, and a can of spam we headed out into the unknown.

The rain drizzled moodily off and on, but I remained toasty in my wonder suit. You see, the goal was to hike in about four miles to a campground, but after about two and a half hours of hiking, we began to look at the narrow trail with new interest--we just might be sleeping on it. Then there were the trees... lots and lots of trees! The trail hadn't been cleared yet, so we became experts at scaling over the wet, slippery, cedars that had fallen across the path. After hiking for another hour we realized that we had no idea where the campground was. So, unsure of what to do, we took a picture.

Me, with some of my favorite people...anything is fun with them!

God is the master artist. I delight in His handiwork!
Just when it was getting dark, we found the campground! Hallelujah! I thought hiking all night sounded like a fun adventure, but as soon as we found that campground I became instantly fatigued. The rain stopped long enough for us to build a fire, set up camp, and roast the largest marshmallows I have ever seen. Meanwhile, I realized the things I take for granted when camping; things like chairs. I found a wet rock does do the trick however.

The next morning was so encouraging! As we ate tasty granola the Altmyers had prepared and warmed ourselves by the fire, we had a wonderful time fellowshipping and reading God's Word. It is such a blessing to spend time with other believers! I was very blessed by many of Mr. Altmyer's "pearls of wisdom." One that really stood out was: "Big GOD, small people...small God, big PEOPLE." How often have I cared way too much what people think of me? How often have I been guilty of putting God in a box and forgetting His power and vast awesomeness? Far too many times. It was so good to hear this powerful truth and be reminded that God is the only one I should endeavor to please.

After our relaxing breakfast, Daddy tore off into the underbrush in a mad race to make a deadline back in Kingston. How he ran seven miles at an eight minute pace while hurdling over trees, I will never know. Needless to say, I won't bother to ask how fast he drove. All I know is, us remaining campers packed out the extra gear he left behind.

It was a gorgeous day and the extra weight we were carrying made us feel like total mountain women. The downside to having an [almost] 50lb pack, aside from feeling like I was being compacted, was the topsy, turvy, tree crossings. If one of us fell, we would probably fall, and fall, and fall. So, none of us decided to tip over, despite the heavy encouragement from our packs. This time we counted the trees. I started looking forward to tree crossings because I got to holler out a number... "fifty-four!" It was exhilarating--definitely made me feel accomplished.

Packed up and headed out

A bunch of miles and 408 trees later, we made it back to the truck feeling like total woodsman warriors. That was until a glaring four foot sign popped our bubble of pride like a pin busts a balloon. There, right by the truck was a sign we had totally ignored. It read "Campground, 7 miles." I guess we have to go back to the basics. We didn't know you were actually supposed to read those things.

All in all it was a blast. Not at all how we had planned, but all the better because of it. When you don't know what's going to happen, there's always that suspense and intrigue. I'll take that over having it all figured out any day. Thanks for putting up with us, Altmyers! We had a wonderful time with you all and were so blessed! And thank you Daddy for taking the time to hike with your girls. I love you!

Rain? 408 tree crossings? 14 miles? 48 pound packs? Spam (for the first time)? Bring it on!!!