A long time ago, when I was running strong and couldn’t envision a time that I wouldn’t be, I wrote a post in which I made the statement, “I love my legs.” It wasn’t a boastful post, as my legs are nice, but nothing to crow about. Rather, it was a post about thankfulness. Thankful that my legs took me places, held me up, helped in my quest for adventure. Years later, after many injuries, come-backs, more injuries, and illnesses which sidelined me from running, I have to say that statement stands. Probably even more now than then, I’m thankful for my legs. They take me where I want to go, and I know many people who don’t share that privilege. They’ve led me into new adventures, proving, yet again, that old dogs can absolutely learn new tricks.
Gary and I have been hiking for a number of years, and a few weeks ago, we were hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness area of Bankhead National Forest in Alabama. It’s fall here in the south, and the colors and sights are breathtaking. I made an off-hand comment that I’d be willing to do some wilderness backpacking, and that was all my man needed. Many dollars later, he had us outfitted and ready for bear. If you know me, you know I’m very attached to my perfect mattress and high thread count sheets, but I’m more game in my old age than I used to be, so we took a week and devoted it to hiking and backpacking.
Oh my. I can’t even describe how glad I am we’ve added wilderness backpacking to our repertoire. Come along as I take you on our first foray into the wild.
Don’t let the bucolic scene above make you believe this is going to be an easy hike. Because it’s not. All the info we read (And by we, I mean Gary) claims this is a fairly easy trail, and maybe it is if you’re 25 and in great shape. I’m not. The trail is medium to hard hiking, with lots of downed trees, slippery rocks, and up and down traverses with tricky footing. But the views…
We hiked roughly six miles in, then set up camp, as it was not too long until dark. As always, my man prepared us well.
After a solid 12 hours in the sack, we were ready for adventure the next day. We set off in search of the Big Tree, but took a wrong turn somewhere and didn’t find it. No worries, though. Just a reason to come back.
We returned to camp and packed up to head back. On the return journey, we ran into some friends.
After roughly 18 miles in two days on bodies not quite as young as they used to be, I’ll admit the last two miles to the truck felt a lot like a death march. We finally made it back, stopped for a hot meal, then headed back to our base camp at Trace State Park in Tupelo for a really good night’s rest.
There are many more wilderness backpacking hikes in our future, I hope. This one, our first in almost 40 years of marriage, was a magnificent success.