As fas as I can tell, Seattle splits bushwalking/hiking/camping up into 3 groups;

  • Hiking: just going for a bushwalk, nothing overnight
  • Car Camping: an overnight trip, but you drive your car up to the campground. You might go for day hikes, but you’ll sleep near the car and you can carry way more stuff/heavier tents.
  • Backpacking You park your car somewhere and go off for a least a night with just what’s in your bag.

I was definitely well on the way to a cold come Friday evening, but being determined to tick all of these off before I hit the 1-year-in-Seattle mark I committed anyway. The photos speak to how pleased I am with that decision :)

June was kind enough to put up a list of all the gear she brings, so after reading through that and spending a while on REI’s website/googling for beginners advice, I fronted up the $250 I needed for miscellaneous small things.

It all came together perfectly in the end, with my hydration bladder clipping beautifully onto my pack (one of the few things I already owned).

The hike around the lakes was really well paced, with good variation in inclines, enough twists and turns to keep it interesting (and prevent long visible sections ahead to dwell on) and a mix of lakes, mushrooms and fall colored leaves to keep the scenery gorgeous and constantly distracting.

Speaking of mushrooms, there were a ridiculous quantity! The walk itself was a perfect woodland adventure, but the mushrooms are really what brought it into fairytale territory.

The lighting on the first day was quite overcast, which made for beautifully lit/even photos. The sun really came out on day 2, so the walk back was like a completely different hike seeing how the light fell - we walked through one section covered in yellow leaves, and I almost tripped over just staring at how we were suddenly bathed in color.

There was so much variety in the scenery; from crazy colorful fall sections to lakes to areas as quiet and isolated and magical feeling as this.

I don’t know how celebratory peaches became a thing, but I do know it’s entirely mine and I love it. The best food I’ve ever tasted is always post-hike, and peaches somehow really take that to the next level.

Our tents were all beautiful, complementary, fall colors, and our campground was perfect! Tucked away down a side-path, and right next to the lake. We were really happy to find it!

Our group was a mix of 3 experienced backpackers and 3 complete novices (hello!). Rob brought along his magnesium flint stick, and showed us how to use it to start a fire - probably more of a party trick than an ideal methodology, but cool to know.

Mid-afternoon we left our campsite to find the 3rd lake of the trip: Deer Lake. It wasn’t very much further, and we all felt feather-light without our pack. We scrambled along some crazy tree trunks up to a wall of rocks, and had a beautiful view out over the lake - so of course I took a selfie.

I think technically it was no campfires allowed, but our camping ground had a firebed and it was so damp out that we deemed the odds of anything catching accidentally acceptably small.

It was a super fun exercise figuring out how to light a fire with only wet materials - we ended up using a firstarter and some dry leaves/super small twigs to get started, followed by constructing a teepee with gradually increasing thicknesses, so that the inner layer would dry out the next one, and when it finally caught, that would dry out the next one, and so on.

Fire is love. Fire is life. I maybe overuse that phrase.

Bringing wine was a seriously good idea that hadn’t occurred to me - wine is something I’ve only recently learned to like, but it felt so perfect drinking wine out of a box in front of a campfire, bundled up in my ski jacket.

I woke up at 6:30 and staggered outside to take pictures of the lake. I’m very glad I did it, but it took my hands a good few minutes to warm up after I stumbled back into the tent, shedded the gloves and shoved my hands under my armpits!

Alyssa taught all us non-southerners what ‘grits’ are - basically less-finely-ground corn than polenta. Oats are of course far superior.

As this is my second proper hiking trip, I thought I’d build on my previous camping post and add some things I’ve since nailed, some things I worked on this trip, and some things I’d like to improve upon for future excursions.

Nailed It

  • Buying a hydration bladder was amazing! Not having to stop to get water out was the greatest. Bringing electrolyte tabs to cover the purification tablet/new bladder taste was an A+ decision.
  • Freeze dried meals taste so good! Hot chocolate powder was the best call ever, and bringing a peach for the end of each day is the necessary perfect end to a day
  • I solved the toilet paper problem with a tiny roll in a plastic containers, and wet ones for individual hand sanitizing
  • Having pre-broken in shoes was so nice
  • Bringing my wide-angle (10-20mm) camera lens was a great idea; easy selfies and awesome scenery shots.

Worked On

  • Just getting on with what needs to be done: not complaining about cold, just bundling up. Sucking it up and getting out of the tent to go pee at night.
  • Enjoying difficult things:
  • Feeling comfortable with the ebb and flow of conversation: drifting between groups on the hike, lettting silence exist around the campfire.

Lessons for Next Time

  • Pouches/pockets to go on my pack straps (shoulders/waist) - reaching around into my pack for tissues/jerky is obnoxious
  • I just bought a go girl in order to pee standing up
  • Bringing an extra pair of underwear/socks/pants was a good call, but one good shirt/bra was enough
  • I’ll need my own tent+stove at somepoint.
  • Firestarters are small and a game-changer