For me, backpacking seems to be one of those activities that never goes according to plan. I don’t think that I have ever managed to do exactly what I had planned, and this latest trip was no exception. This time, I was alone and that made things a little different. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else, which freed me to make faster decisions. This also meant that I didn’t have anyone to support me, so if things went poorly, they could go very poorly indeed.
This is the second installment of the trail journal that I kept while backpacking alone in the Columbia River Gorge. I’d wanted to hike this particular loop for years, and the occasion of my 42nd birthday was the perfect excuse to head out alone. It was also a chance to find out how I fared alone on the trail, alone with my thoughts and the wild.
I started my day alone and in good spirits
I haven’t been able to do much of any hiking this summer. There have been a few trips with the boy up to Forest Park, but nothing substantial. I decided to fix that with a solo backpacking trip in the gorge. I’d had my eyes on a four day, forty mile loop for years.
Not so long ago I planned a solo backpacking trip, three days in the woods. It seemed like a simple thing. My wife would drive me out to the trail head one morning, then return a couple of days later to take me home. I looked at the trail maps and planned out the days. I googled the directions and we headed out.
I’m setting out today on a three day hike. I’ll cover over 30 miles of wilderness that I’ve never seen before, and I’m excited. This trip is a first for me in a number of ways. This will be the second trip of the summer, the first time that I’ve had a second trip. It will be my first time on these trails. It will also be the first time that I go by myself.
This last trip was a big one for me. This was the first time that I’d been out on the trail for four days. There was a major defeat that led to a big detour. This was also the first trip where I felt that my gear was just what I wanted and my menu was great too.
My last morning on the mountain was calm and unhurried. I fetched water and ate breakfast in camp. I broke down my tent and stowed my gear methodically, making sure that everything was in its place. My body had complaints about the previous day‘s brutality, but I was soothed with the knowledge that I’d be home for a hot shower before dark.