Before every backpack trip, we hold a trip planning meeting. We call it a “trip planning” meeting; in truth, the trips are pretty much already planned. It’s more of a “trip explanation” meeting. We go over basic logistics: carpooling, the route, the campsites, where we’ll find water, the weather forecast, any special precautions to take — for instance, if it’s an exposed route, bring extra sunscreen; if there are multiple water crossings, bring water shoes; if there are bears, bring a bear canister.
This picture means a lot to me because everyone in it still speaks to me. In fact, they’ve all gone on trips with me since.
The photo was taken last August on a GetBackpacking! trip into Linville Gorge. It was a three-day, 22-mile trip that involved two crossings of the Linville River, a knee-busting descent into Chimney Gap followed by a calf-burning ascent out, navigating a river section that had little interest in being navigated, and this drop into the gorge on the Leadmine Trail—a path that looked relatively innocuous on the topo map. In reality, it’s a path best tackled by tossing your pack down the mountain first, then scooting down after it. You know how trails rarely look as steep in photos? Not this one.
I climbed into the frigid car this morning, turned the key and was met by a sluggish grind, followed by clicking, followed by quiet. A moment of worry, then a smile. The New Year would be getting off to an active start with a bonus three-mile “hike.”