We spent most of the waking time in the last 10 days climbing / hiking. It was ambitious, exhausting and exhilarating. Going to places that roads don’t take you. And some that should not be contaminated with roads and civilization. Why do we go camping ? Harsha says its an escape/break from his city life. For me, its more about the life I want for myself – close to nature. There are different kinds of nature lovers. The ones who drive from place to place, look at the nature and take pictures ( maybe ). The ones who live in sync with the nature and deeply care about sustainability and the ecosystem. I waver in the middle. Hence the trails.
Safety is paramount when hiking the bear country. We saw 4 bears in the week we stayed in Yellowstone. Bear attacks are rare but do happen. Startling a bear with a cub and near its food source is one the highest rated danger situations. Make noise, talk loudly, carry a bell, … they say. We sang our bears away. I bet when they heard me sing, they were scared for what’s coming in their direction.
We would do one very long hike (>9 miles) or one medium ( ~5 miles ) + one short ( < 3 miles ) hike per day. We met some very interesting people. Lots of couples from Europe and Australia. Lots of German men. A few families with kids. Guess what the conversation starter is ? “Hello, have you seen any bears or bison near the trails ? “. Ofcourse ! Everyone was on alert and we had to share the information. There was a trail where 2 bison were sitting ON the trail. We discussed what we could do inorder to get around them. I regret not taking more pictures of the people we meet during our travel.
Looking back, the trails were littered with very interesting ‘things’, flaura and fauna. There is so much beauty all around that made it all worth it. The rolling hills, Douglas fir trees, lakes, snow and the usual culprits made it good. But the special ingredients : that bird that kept walking in front of us on a trail made us giggle for extended periods of time, different mushrooms on the ground, the dead bones in the bear country ( antlers ), the chipmunks and all sorts of little animals made it an experience.
Backcountry hikes are long. Start at one location and end at another. Finding the way back to the lots where we parked our car involved some hitchhiking. We had a 50:1 luck ratio, one person giving us a ride for every 50 who drive by, which I think is pretty good. But Harsha was rather disappointed in humanity. We met some interesting people who were extremely kind to us by letting us into their cars and getting us to places. Thank you universe, for all the love.
Take small breaks. Lie down. Pretend to nap. Sit on an elevated hill and watch the sunset. Skinny dip. Relax while the little stove boils 400ml of water ( 10 minutes ). Mark the maps. Spray mosquito repellant. Make pictures …… downtime during the trails are important. When we got too ambitious, waking up the next day got harder.
Partly due to our inexperience with camping, we ate a lot of junk food. When weight is paramount and when in locations close to bear territories ( trails ) , we made junk food like instant noodles and mac cheese. No regrets though. We did the best we could do given the constraints and locations. Lots of shin bowls, maggi noodles, brownies and trail mixes were ingested.
They were pretty tasty. Makes me glad to be home making rice and lentils again. I do not want to eat another pot of noodles for a really long time.
We sang. We marched in step when it got hard to finish the day. We ate cookies and brownies. We took breaks and hydrated. We napped. We created a few jingles about bears and bison. He wrote a song for me about me. We had a few “is that a bear round the corner?” moments and made it home safe in the end. To me, it felt like a primitive suppressed instinct to look out for danger. I was thrilled about the experience. Since Harsha worries for both of us, it was tiring and stressing him out. He is happier to be home safe than I am. I would love to go back for more.