Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Watch now: Novice backpacker tries a whole new way of camping
alert featured

Watch now: Novice backpacker tries a whole new way of camping

I had all of the gear and none of the experience.

Regardless, I was about to find out if my aging body could handle a 30-pound pack and 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

The goal was to navigate three miles into the Salmon-Challis National Forest with six other novice backpackers and two guides from the College of Southern Idaho’s outdoor recreation center. Some were students, and others were community members.

Adding more food to our packs, I introduced myself to Shayne Commons, 33, a small business owner and entrepreneur. He wanted to push himself outside of his comfort zone, something I could relate to.

First-time backpackers learn, thrive together

Backpackers head back to the trailhead after an overnight trip with CSI's Outdoor Recreation Center on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Sun Valley.

Most of the group rented backpacking gear from CSI’s outdoor recreation center, a service I was unaware of after spending hundreds of dollars on my own pack over the last year.

We loaded our gear, and away we went to the Pioneers mountain range in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

We stopped in Hailey for snacks, and I quickly realized I had been so concerned about weight that I had left my wallet back in Twin Falls. “Such is life,” I thought and continued to push for a positive attitude.

As we continued our journey north a large bag of gummy bears was passed around. I hadn’t had one in probably 20 years and found them to be delectable. So much so it became a running joke throughout the trip.

After a four-hour drive, we reached our trailhead. It had started to rain and the group sought what little shelter they could find under a canopy of trees. I pulled out my backpacking stove and started to boil water for my dehydrated lunch.

It was a blissfully warm meal on an increasingly dreary day.

After lunch, we had a team meeting on trail etiquette and pacing. While I normally don’t use trekking poles going up trails, I figured it would be best to try and take as much pressure off my knees now that I weighed nearly 200 pounds.

As our elevation increased so did the rain. I had an emergency poncho but I was already far too wet for it to be of any use. I shrugged off the rain and smiled. It felt like I was hiking through the Andes along the Inca Trail again in a warm rainstorm. Our breaks became shorter, and we became more determined to reach our destination. I was running low on gummy bears and was looking forward to making camp.

The last push was several hundred feet of elevation gain. The trail was being washed out in front of our very eyes. I was elated with how my Arc’teryx trail shoes were holding up. The group had grown quiet as we sloshed our way up the trail. I was soaked to the bone and just focused on moving one foot in front of the other.

Upon rounding a corner we came upon our third creek crossing along with a gorgeous mountain lake. We had arrived!

I quickly found a tree at the edge of the water and hunkered down. Trip coordinator Maren Hunter asked if I had a tarp with me. I tossed her my tent footprint, which I almost hadn’t packed to save weight. She began to make a shelter for the kitchen camp. The rain paused after about 20 more minutes and I quickly set up my new one-person tent along with my two sleeping pads and 20-degree sleeping bag.

I changed into a dry shirt and my pullover fleece (I only had one pair of pants) and looked to the sky. I’d better toss on that poncho as well, I thought. Ten minutes later it started raining again.

Pulling out my new ultralight camping chair, I quickly realized that I was the only one that had one. I took a seat and watched our motley crew began to set their gear up. I tossed them my mallet so they could get their tents pegged down and finished off the rest of my irresistible gummies.

Once our kitchen was set up, it was a team effort to get everything going. Trip leader Sarah Kirchner had a Gado Gado pasta recipe she wanted to try out involving rice noodles and a spicy peanut butter sauce.

Once our stomachs were full it was time to learn how to properly wash our dishes, what to do with our dirty water and keep food particles from tainting our campsite. Once we had a much better understanding of leave no trace ethics we moved over to the lake and learned how to stay hydrated while backpacking in the backcountry. Showing us the proper way to fill our canteens and different methods to sterilize and purify, Kirchner and Hunter covered all the bases.

First-time backpackers learn, thrive together

Sarah Kirchner, trip leader, fills a pot with water to boil for dinner during an overnight backpacking trip with CSI's Outdoor Recreation Center on Saturday evening, July 31, 2021, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Sun Valley.

I sipped on my hot chocolate as we gathered around to play a game I had not heard of: Rose, Thorn, Bud. The point of the exercise was to share a highlight, a challenge and ending with something the participant was looking forward to after the day’s events. Most of us were just happy to be in touch with nature, we mostly brought up the rain as challenging, I know I wished I’d brought another pair of dry socks. I looked forward to more backpacking trips and the knowledge that the CSI Recreation Center was providing us.

The morning came early and my joints were stiff. Our trip leaders already had clean, hot water on hand so I used my nifty GSI Coffee Rocket and brewed up a cup of my finest medium roast.

The crew laid out their sleeping pads and followed Kirchner along in some mediation and yoga poses. One of the campers needed a pad so I loaned her mine and I opted to take photos of the event instead of participating. Watching as the camp sprung to life in front of idyllic mountains while doing warrior poses felt like something out of a movie.

First-time backpackers learn, thrive together

Breakfast is served Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Sun Valley.

After a 30-minute yoga session, it was time to make hash browns and avocado toast along with all the trimmings. All that extra food they had us carry was really paying off.

After breakfast, I met up with Kailea Albrecht, 25, who had just finished up taking photography courses at CSI and was now moving onto Boise State University to finish her degree. We wandered about to another side of the lake and made photos of wildflowers and a small creek running into the lake. We talked about shooting different film stocks and some of the adventures we’d been on. It was a nice reprieve to get to talk shop with another photographer.

First-time backpackers learn, thrive together

Sydney Schoth, 18, decided to come on an overnight backpacking trip with CSI's Outdoor Recreation Center on Saturday, July 31, 2021, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near Sun Valley. Schoth will be headed to the University of Idaho for college soon.

The group had decided to go on a short hike to another lake, but I thought it best to try and dry out my damp clothes, get a nap in and start packing up my gear. Once the group was ready to go we donned our packs and started our journey back down the trail. The only thing missing was gummy bears.

+25 
+25 
First-time backpackers learn, thrive together
+25 
+25 
First-time backpackers learn, thrive together
+25 
+25 
First-time backpackers learn, thrive together
+25 
+25 
First-time backpackers learn, thrive together
+25 
+25 
First-time backpackers learn, thrive together

Hiking in the social distance: Exploring the Magic Valley

Finding gems while hiking in the Magic Valley and making pictures. 

alert featured
  • Updated
  • 0
  • 1 min to read

Black Magic Canyon gives hikers a small, yet spectacular canyon lined with dark basalt walls that have been carved out over thousands of years from the Big Wood River.

Photojournalist Drew Nash has worked for the Times-News since 2009. In his free time Nash is an avid hiker and landscape photographer.

0
0
0
0
0

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News