Wildly Remote: Day 2 Colorado 2014

Monday, Monday.  Only two more of them before they start meaning something to me again!  Summer is rapidly drawing to a close, and I, of course, am still dreaming about the mountains.  I actually started making a photo book of our trip last night, and, after looking at the pictures again, it’s taking a good amount of restraint not to pack the car and head straight back.  What can I say?  I’m a mountain girl living in a flat lander world.  Sigh.

The second best thing to actually being on the trail is talking ad nauseam about it, and, lucky for you guys, that’s exactly what I intend to do today! This post is going to cover day two of our six day backpacking trip through the Weminuche Wilderness in southern Colorado.  If you’re just popping in, you can catch up on day one here.

Day two dawned with clear skies and good attitudes thanks to a good night of rest in a particularly good campsite.  We knew we had a roughly eleven mile day ahead of us so we ate breakfast, broke camp, paused for another group picture, and we’re on our way.


Less than a mile in, we made it to Divide Lakes, and all of us were impressed by what a beautiful spot it was and a little sad to have missed out on camping there the night before.  We knew we’d being coming back by on the last night of our trip, and all of us were set on making sure it was our last campsite.


Not far from the lake we came to the Weminuche Trail/Pine River Trail junction where we turned northeast onto the Pine. We stayed on that trail and followed the Pine River throughout most of the morning.  It was fairly easy route with some small rolling up and downs, but nothing terribly strenuous.  Of course, there were more than enough wonderful views to keep us entertained.


Around noon we came to Rincon La Osa Trail Junction, and we paused to have lunch on the banks of the Pine River before heading northwest up the Rincon La Osa trail.  And I do mean up.  We spent most of the remaining miles of the day on steady incline aiming for the Rincon La Osa valley.  As a side note, as soon as we turned on to the Rincon, we saw a group of ladies out for a backpacking trip.  They were the last human beings we would see until around two the next afternoon.  One of the many things I love about this area of Colorado is the wild remoteness of it.


As our watches ticked closer to five o’clock and our bodies begun to feel the wear of the long day, we started to get very anxious to get to camp.  After a long day of going uphill, we made it to vast open valley and hoped we were where we needed to be.


We walked off trail just a little bit to a really beautiful campsite, but, after much discussion, decided that our actual destination was, once again, about a mile up the trail.  At that point, however, the clouds were looking ominous and everyone was tired and hungry so we decided to take advantage of the nice campsite we had found.


We were all exhausted and Caite and Alex were feeling a bit peckish that evening so everyone turned in early that night.  The next morning we had a very early wake up call so we needed the rest!


And, since that was a big day with lots of pictures, I’ll save that for later in the week.  Day 3 was one of the most beautiful we had on the trail so you don’t want to miss it!


In the mean time, I’m off to school to get some work done.  It’s time to get back to reality!  Have a great day!

Day 2

Outfitter Camp to Horse Camp just short of the Rincon La Osa Valley

Trails:  Weminuche Trail to Pine River Trail to Rincon La Osa Trail

Miles:  10

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +1600/-280ft.

Summer is Waning

I decided to break up the recaps, and interrupt this broadcast to join in with Amanda’s Thursday Thoughts!


1.  We are getting to that point in the summer where every single day is precious because there aren’t that many free ones left!  In all honesty, however, I really never mind school starting back up.  September through December is my absolute favorite time of the year, and school starting back means it’s right around the corner.

2.  I told you I’ve been reading like crazy since vacation, and I just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  I heard about this book some time ago on some blog (maybe Julie’s book club?), and I thought it sounded like a neat concept.  It’s the story of a 39-year-old woman who bumps her head at the gym and wakes up thinking she’s 29 again.  She has absolutely no memory of the last ten years and all the things that have changed (and gone wrong!) in her life.  Hilarity ensues.  It was a great read, and I’m going to the library today to find some more by the author.




3.  John and I are still obsessed with The West Wing.  It is such a good show, and if you like quirky, witty humor and truly brilliant writing then you must watch it.  I have just one question.  When are Donna and Josh going to get together already?  No, no, don’t tell me.

4.  I missed these little guys so much while we were gone!  They were definitely happy to see us, and they were incredibly glad to see each other.



Yes, this is the best picture I could get of the two of them, and it’s a perfect representation.  Gus loves his big brother!

5.  Did I mention the temperature is inching close to 100 today?  Take me back to the mountains please.

6.  Look what my sister did with some of our vacation pictures.

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I wish I had an inch of her talent!

7.  My European History class officially got put on the class schedule for next year.  In addition to some other school stuff, I need to spend some time next week in front of my computer developing some of the first lessons.  I am so excited to teach this course, and, yes, I understand how nerdy that makes me!

8.  And just because they’re too beautiful not to share….


Have a great weekend everyone!  I’ll be back on Monday with Day 2 & 3 of our trip!

What’s your favorite time of year?  Read any good books lately?

A Little Hiccup: Colorado 2014 Day One

Well, I managed to tear myself a way from my latest book to pop in today.  I went on a reading frenzy on vacation, and it has continued here at home.  I’ve decided to read to my heart’s content because I just about three weeks until reality sets back in, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

However, I did promise a trip recap so today here’s a look at the first day of our backpacking adventure.  John and I enjoyed two days in Buena Vista and nearly a week in Pagosa Springs just day hiking and relaxing.  There also might have been some real estate searches going on, and, hopefully, I’ll have more to report on that later!  We were set to begin the backpacking portion of the trip on July 12th, and the rest of the crew showed up a few nights earlier to start getting acclimated.


As a little aside, I have to take a moment to tell you just how much I enjoyed the cabin we stayed in while in Pagosa Springs.  It was so charming and, despite being small, it can easily sleep six.  The owners, Ohea and Steve Graham, were so wonderful to work with.  We even had a chance to meet both of them while we were there, and John and I both instantly liked them.  For some crazy reason, I didn’t manage to get a picture of the cabin, but you can check it out on their website.  If you’re planning a trip to Pagosa Springs (which you should-it’s one of my favorite Colorado towns!), this is definitely the place to stay.

We left the cabin bright and early Saturday morning, and made the forty-five minute drive to Poison Park and the Weminuche trailhead.  With around eight miles on the schedule for the day, we wanted to get a fairly early start.  July is monsoon season for Colorado, and, like clockwork, you can count on storms rolling in every afternoon.


The first part of the day was downhill and pretty easy if not terribly scenic.  A lot of the beginning of the trail is spent walking through the trees which just isn’t my jam.


However, it does break open pretty often to some spectacular valleys.


We had been on the trail for a few hours and a few miles when we had a slightly major hiccup.  John suddenly realized that he had left our SPOT GPS device (review to come!) laying on the hood of our car!  You can imagine that there was definitely some frustration as we discussed the options.  The group finally decided that John and Justin would drop their packs, and jog back for it.

Caite, Dad, Alex, and I quickly realized we were not the only ones inhabiting the spot we had decided to wait in.  The flies and mosquiotoes were everywhere so Dad devised a plan.  The four of us began leapfrogging the six packs up the trail, and it was actually a fun little game!  Unfortunately, the storm we knew would come hit, and we were forced to hunker down while it passed.

Before the storm!

Before the storm!

Eventually, John and Justin caught back up with us, and we continued on to our target campsite for the evening.  The rest of the afternoon was a little more difficult, however.  Morale was low due to the unexpected hiccup not to mention the ankle deep mud that was now the trail as a result of the rain.

We pushed through, and finally made it to camp around five in the afternoon.  Originally, we had wanted to make it to Divide Lakes, but we decided to stop about a mile short of it because we happened upon a pretty coop campsite.

Apparently, an outfitter had set up a camp in the backcountry complete with a table made out of a tree and LAWN CHAIRS!  For those of you who haven’t ever backpacked, lawn chairs are an incredible luxury, and we took full advantage of them that night.


We enjoyed the chairs, a fire, and some good company until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.  The six of us retired to our respective tents, and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pad.  It was an eventful first day, and we were just beginning!

Trail Details Day One

Trailhead:  Poison Park/Weminuche Trail

Distance:  8 miles/Poison Park to Outfitter camp one mile short of Divide Lake

Elevation Gain/Loss:  +2100/-1161ft.

I’ll be back on Friday with Day Two!

Keep Close To Nature’s Heart

We’re back!  Once again, I find myself in the flat lands of Oklahoma dreaming about the mountains and all the fun we had the last two weeks.

John and I pulled into the driveway about 2:45 Saturday morning, and quickly agreed that we wanted no part of that kind of late night driving anymore.  11 PM until home was rough!  The late night plus the seriously active vacation (we don’t do relaxing trips!) meant we were pooped, and spent the rest of the weekend being lazy watching The West Wing and reading.  It was perfect, but that means I have a ton of laundry and other odds and ends to take care on this fabulous Monday morning.  So, trust me, I will have a ton of recaps coming at you later in the week, but, for now, I’m going to give you a little glimpse at the over 300 pictures we took while we were gone.










And this is just an extremely small portion of all the pictures I have to share!  Is it any wonder that I always want to be in the mountains.  The pictures don’t even do the beauty of them justice!  As promised, I’ll be back with the tales that accompany these illustrations later in the week.  Have a great Monday!


Currently: July

Hey everyone!  I hope you’re having a great week.  We’re still in Colorado enjoying our vacation.  Right about now, we’re deep in the backcountry enjoying life away from technology for a little while.  However, I didn’t want to completely check out on you all so here’s a little Currently post for the month of July!  Enjoy!


Current books:  A few weeks ago I was going through a bunch of old paperbacks, and found one “Losing Julia”.  I’m fairly certain that I read this years ago, but I don’t remember a thing and I needed a paperback to stash in my pack for our trip.  So far so good!

Current music:  John and I always forgo music on our trips for an audio book.  This time the selection is “Allegiant.”  I, of course, have already read it, but John hasn’t and I’m so ready for him to find out what happens.


Current guilty pleasure: The Bachelorette.  I know, I know-it’s completely undignified TV, but I’m hooked.  At least I have no allusions about the quality of the show!

Current nail color:  I was inspired by Hazel’s nail color choice in “The Fault In Our Stars” movie so I dug up some gray nail polish (I didn’t have black!).  Let’s see how long it takes me to get tired of something being on my nails!


Current drink:  I’ll say water because that’s all I get to eat in the backcountry!

Current food:  Anything from Steamworks Brewery.  It’s my favorite restaurant anywhere, and it’s where we’re going to have our post-trail meal!

Current favorite show: Of course, we’re on a break on vacation, but John and I are still working through The West Wing.  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite shows ever.

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Current indulgence: I can promise you that as soon as we’re off trail I will be indulging in all manner of decadent treats!

Current blessing: The means to take vacations.  I know not everyone gets to travel the way I do, and I never want to take that for granted.

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Current outfit:  Hiking shorts, hiking shirt, and boots!

Current excitement: I’m out on the trail, and sharing the experience with people I love.  That’s exciting!

Current mood: Content and happy




Current link: To go along with the theme of this post, go check out a post Heather wrote a few weeks ago about women in the outdoors.  My sentiments exactly!

What are you feeling grateful for currently?

Quotes To Hike By

Hey everyone!  I hope all of you are having a great week!  My crew and I are deep in the backcountry right about now which means I’m right in the middle of my happy place!

I know many of you out there are prolific Pinterest users, and I share the obsession.  One of my favorite things about Pinterest is all the uplifting, thought-provoking, or just funny memes and quotes that float around there.  Of course, I have entire board devoted to quotes about hiking, and, since, I’m up in the mountains hopefully living them, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you!












And, of course, my favorite.

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And because we can’t be deep all the time…………



Have a great day!

Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Between writing my review on “A Long Way From Nowhere” and preparing for our latest backpacking trip, thru-hiking a long-distance trail has been on my mind a lot lately.  Thru-hiking is simply the act of hiking a long-distance trail from end to end, and, in the U.S., there are three major trails that people are usually talking about when they mention thru-hiking:  Appalachian Trail (approx. 2,100 miles) Continental Divide Trail (approx. 3,100 miles) and the Pacific Crest Trail (approx. 2,650 miles).

All three of these trails have their pros and cons, and today I’m starting a series to break some of those down for you in the event that you’re considering your own thru-hiking experience.  Keep in mind that most of these are my own opinion.  Something that’s a con for me might end up being a pro for you!

First up, the Appalachian Trail.  Now last week I told you that I have no interest in doing the Appalachian Trail, and I’ll enumerate those reasons but, again, this is just my opinion.  In fact, the Appalachian Trail is the most popular trail of all three long distance thru-hikes in America. It runs from Georgia to Maine, and thousands of people attempt to thru-hike the AT every year with many, many more getting out on it for day and section hikes throughout the year.  Why is that?  The AT is the oldest and most well-established of all three major trails.  It is also really close to resources.  While on the AT, you will never be too far from a town which makes resupply a breeze compared to the PCT or the CDT.




Another plus for some hikers is the never-ending supply of company you can find on the AT.  Many thru-hikers begin their journey solo, and, as a result, find comfort in the fellow hikers they meet along the way.  Almost everything you read tells the tale of thru-hikers forging lasting bonds with people they never would’ve come into contact with otherwise.




As for the trail itself, the AT is not without challenge.  Let’s face it-any time you attempt to walk for thousands of miles it’s going to be challenging!  The AT has it’s fair share of climbs and rough patches of terrain.  However, the elevation is not nearly as high as the trails you find out west which can be a huge blessing especially for people who are not used to it.

Now let’s talk about the negative aspects of the AT.  The Appalachian Trail is home to your friendly neighborhood tick.  It is a significant concern on this trail because ticks can transmit Lyme Disease.  Though dangerous if left untreated, Lyme Disease can be controlled with the help of medication and a doctor’s help.  However, the main danger to a thru-hiker is the end of their trip.  It is not unheard of for hikers of the AT to be forced to end their trip early due to this disease.

This is the part that I need to put up a giant IN MY OPINION sign, but I’m going to go ahead a count one of the pros as a con for me.  I personally would hate that many people being on the trail.  For me, one of the main draws of hiking in general is the ability to get away from the world.  I often tell the story of the time John and I spent a day and a half in the backcountry without seeing another soul save for a backcountry ranger.  And I tell that story with fondness!

I hesitate to voice this next one, but I feel like the views on the AT cannot compete with the views out west.  I hesitate because I’ve never actually been on any part of the Appalachian Trail, but I am, however, familiar with geography of the part of the country as well as the geography of the CDT and PCT.  I just can’t imagine how it could compare.  Again, that’s my viewpoint.  For some people, the gently rolling hills of Virginia is perfect!




All in all, the AT is definitely a trail to consider if for no other reason than convenience.  Many first time thru-hikers pick this one so they simply don’t have to put as much effort into resupply.  And, I hear, the trail magic of the AT is second to none!  It may just be a perfect trail for you to get your feet wet!

Have you ever considered a thru-hike?  Ever done any day hiking on the AT?

A Long Way From Nowhere

One of the biggest dreams I have for my life is to someday hike one of the long-distance hiking trails in the U.S.  There are three options:  the Appalachian Trail (approx. 2,100 miles), the Pacific Crest Trail (approx. 2,650 miles), and the Continental Divide Trail (approx. 3,100 miles).  I have no interest in doing the Appalachian Trail (for reasons I’m sure I’ll enumerate in later posts) so that leaves the PCT or the CDT.  I go back and forth on which one I’d rather do so, as a result, I devour anything I can find that’s written on these two subjects.

Enter Julie Urbanski.  Julie and her husband, Matt, have conquer all three of these long-distance trails that earned Matt the coveted “Triple Crown” title.  (Julie can’t quite say that for reasons you find out in her book!)  Julie has written two books detailing their adventures on the both the PCT and the Appalachian, and Matt joined in on the writing process for the third book, “A Long Way From Nowhere”, which follows their journey on the CDT.


I loved this book.  It was my favorite one of the three, and it was largely due to the two unique voices that tell the story.  Both Julie and Matt switch off chapters, and tell the series of events from their own viewpoints.

One of the best parts of Julie and Matt’s writing is just how real they are about their experience.  Anytime you’re on the trail you will have seriously hard days.  There will be days where all you can think about is food or how much your feet hurt or whether or not the effing bugs will ever stop landing on you.  When you are on the trail for 3,000 miles all of that is magnified by a million.  Of course, there also days of incredible joy and wonderment and gratefulness that you have the means and capabilities to complete such a feat.  Julie and Matt are very honest about both sides of that spectrum.

I was also really drawn to this book because of their couple dynamic.  John is my partner in all things including the trail, and I’ve never done a trip without him (although that’s about to change soon-details later!).  My trail experience has always involved a twosome so it’s interesting to see how other couples navigate this dynamic.  It was especially illuminating to hear about it through both people’s eyes which is another reason this book was my favorite one yet.

Lastly, the CDT has a special place in my heart because so much of it is in the heart of the wild area I love.  It was so interesting to read about places that I am intimately familiar with, and I found that it made the idea of someday attempting my own through hike less intimidating.

Julie and Matt Urbanski are the best people I’ve found yet at navigating the highs and lows of the trail life.  They make thru-hiking accessible without shying away from the hardships that are involved.  If you are at all curious about thru-hiking in general or the CDT specifically, I highly recommend you pick this one up.  Julie and Matt also a run a pretty popular website where they talk about hiking and their adventures in long-distance trail running.  They’ve both completed 100 mile runs so there’s a little something for everyone!

What’s your favorite adventure book?

It’s Go Time!

Happy almost Fourth of July!  What big long weekend plans do you guys have?  I’ve got some big ones!  John and I are shipping out tomorrow morning to head to the mountains for our backpacking trip.  We’re going to be in one of my absolute favorite parts of Colorado that we haven’t seen in a couple of years so I’m pretty pumped.

It’s July 3rd so it’s a great time to check in with the month of June and see how my monthly goals went.  One of the things I want to continue doing on the blog is monthly goal check-ins because I’m a huge believer in accountability and small measurable goals.  Here’s how June went:


1. Prepare and dehydrate three meals for our group backpacking trip

Done!  I put the last of it in the pack last night, and I am so glad.  Dehydrating for our group of six was a bit of a job, and I’m glad to have the hard part done.


2.  Run 80 miles

I did not even get remotely close to this goal.  A few weeks ago, I sustained a foot injury and it’s been aggravated ever since.  I don’t think it’s anything serious, but I wasn’t willing to put our backpacking trip in jeopardy so I gave up running except for the little bit here and there I did in Cross Fit.  I’m hoping my foot gets it’s act together by the time I get back because it’s almost time to start training again.

3.  Relax and enjoy

This was all about my Blend weekend.  Going into it I was a little nervous because I’m usually a total dork around new people.  I’m happy to report that I aced this goal because the weekend was so much fun, and I feel like I made some friends for life.  This girl is never getting rid of me!

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And July!


1.  Relax

I’m going to throw another relax into July.  I have a tendency to plan every minute of vacation, and feel the need to go, go, go.  I know this wears John out, and, quite frankly, it wears me out!  We’ll be spending a week just day hiking and hanging out before we do the backpacking portion of our trip, and I am determined to make it low-key, go with the flow, and enjoyable!

2.  1,000 push-ups, 1,000 squats, 1,000 sit-ups

I’m about to go on vacation for two weeks and I have another little trip planned at the end of the month.  As a result, I think I’ll get to Cross Fit a total of five days this month.  I don’t want to completely lose all of my strength so I want to set some specific numbers to reach.  These three moves can be done anywhere-even camp!

3.  Enjoy Food!

I have done a 180 degree turn when it comes to food in the last year and a half, but I can still get a little anxious when I feel like I’m indulging a little too much.  Vacation can cause be a little stress, and I don’t want it to!  Two weeks is not going to be the end of the world, and, because of the intense exercise we’re doing, I almost always come home lighter anyway.  Besides we’ll be going to my favorite restaurant in the world while we’re gone, and I’m going to enjoy it!

Those should be some easy attainable goals for this month!  Now I’m off to finish packing and loading up.  Have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

What are your July goals?  Do you let yourself eat freely on vacation?

5 Tips For New Backpackers

Hello, hello!  As you can tell from my posting to lately, I’m turning weekends into four day affairs :)  Seriously, this summer has been so busy, and, as a result, it is flying by!  John and I spent most of the weekend doing trip prep, but we did manage to drag ourselves out of the house Saturday night to spend some time with this crazy group.


We’re all about to embark on a month of never being in town at the same time so we wanted to get together before that kicked off.  I petitioned the group for a bowling outing.  I have always loved to bowl.  In fact, when I was a senior in high school, there was a big group of us that you would go once a week.  The habit has definitely fallen by the wayside.  In fact, this was the first time I had been in years!

We devoted the whole of Sunday to getting all of our gear and most of our food together.  I’ve heard rumors that some people can go on vacation without devoting an entire room of their house to preparation, but I’m not sure I believe it.


We’re just about ready to ship out on Friday, and I am so ready to go.  You guys know I hate this hot weather, and with the heat index in the triple digits this week, vacation can’t come soon enough.  I’m especially excited to take Dad, Caite, Justin, and Alex on their first true backpacking adventure.  John and I (John, especially) have been paying close attention to detail to make sure that our newbies have a good experience which made me think about the most important advice and tips that all first timers need to know about backpacking.

There is a never ending amount of advice I could give about backpacking, and you’ve made a friend for life if you engage me in conversation about it and let me talk for hours.  However, I’ve narrowed all of that down to five simple tips that I feel like will allow anyone to have a successful first outing even if you’re not exactly passionate about debating the ins and outs of going ultra-light or the best form of water filtration.

1.  Start Small

My very first backpacking trip was an overnighter in Devil’s Den State Park that spanned 15 miles.  Yes, that doesn’t seem like much, and I’ve since done way more than that in a single day but back then I was on top of the world when I completed it.  On top of the world and more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life.  You guys know how much I revere Cheryl Strayed, but most people couldn’t and shouldn’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail having never backpacked in their life.  Usually, it doesn’t turn out well!


2.  Borrow Your Gear

Backpacking can be a really affordable activity in the long run, but your initial gear set-up can be really pricey.  There is no reason to spend a ton of money (or buy crappy cheap stuff!!) before you know it’s going to be a long-term part of your life.  I know it may not always be an option, but borrow if you can!

3.  Break In Your Boots

One of the main rules for a successful backpacking trip is to take care of your feet.  Those babies have to carry you plus 20+ pounds of gear over a relatively large number of miles and varying terrain, and boots right out of the box will not be forgiving.  We’re talking blisters that can be debilitating and toenails that detached themselves from your body (been there!).  Get your boots as early as possible and get them on your feet.  Wear them to work (boots and khakis can be stylish!), to the grocery store, to walk the dog, wherever…..just put some miles on them before the real work starts!

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4.  Know The Route

John loves maps, and studies them relentlessly leading up to any trip we take.  In fact, the majority of our trips are several different trails pieced together that he worked out just by looking at the map.  You obviously don’t have to go that in-depth, but it would be helpful for you to have a general knowledge about the trail you’ll be on.  How many water sources will there be?  How much elevation gain and loss will you be dealing with?  What’s the mileage breakdown between campsites?  All of that is valuable information in the backcountry!

5.  Watch The Weather/Know The Climate

This one is huge.  It’s so important to know what your walking into.  You wouldn’t want to plan a trip into the high Rockies in January wearing hiking shorts and carrying hammocks to sleep in.  Not only is that extremely dangerous, quite frankly, it wouldn’t be very pleasant.  We live in a horribly hot part of the country, and, as a result, we don’t even think about planning a trip in the hills of Arkansas in the middle of July.  If you tried that your first time out, you probably would hate backpacking and never give it a second chance!  It’s also important to check specific weather reports in the days leading up to your trip.  While afternoon summer storms are common in the mountains, you don’t want to plan a trip in which you encounter monsoon rains for three days straight!  Additionally, many areas of the country are experiencing extreme drought conditions which means there is very often burn bans in effect.  That can affect campfires and, sometimes, camp stoves.  That information if vital to have beforehand so you can plan your food accordingly!

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Like I said, there is so much more I can say about backpacking, but these five tips are a great start for any newbie out there.  With them, you’ll have a great first trip and be bitten by the backpacking bug.  Then we can start that discussion about water filtration ;)

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