The wife of CloudLine co-founder, Jennifer, shares much of her husband's love for nature. But for one reason or another, she had never got around to accompanying him on one of his overnight backpacking trips. She loves hiking and camping, but the thought of carrying 30+ pounds of gear on her back up a mountain had, like it did for many veterans of the activity, caused her to feel a bit nervous or intimidated. That pattern was finally broken over Labor Day weekend when Jennifer joined Joe on a trip into The Enchantments in the North Cascades of Washington state.
If you are new to backpacking, or maybe want to start but are feeling a bit nervous, overwhelmed, or like you don't know where to begin, well, you will want to read on! What follows is a trip report of our hike, what Jennifer packed, what we ate, and how it turned out!
Here's Jen all geared up and checking out the scenery before we set off on the hike. We got lucky and were able to score a pass into one area of The Enchantments. The Forest Service only allows a few overnight campers into The Enchantments every night, which makes this area highly coveted among backpackers. There is so much demand to enter this area that overnight permits are distributed on a lottery system every winter. Because it was fairly late in the year, we were able to buy a permit only 5 days before our trip. We were granted access to the Lake Caroline/Eightmile Lake area within The Enchantments. This was perfect, as it is a moderate hike and elevation gain to Eightmile lake, which is where we planned to camp. 3.5 miles and 1300 feet of elevation, to be exact.
Much of the hike is through an area burned by wildfire a few years ago. The young forest growing back among the blackened trunks made for a very interesting and beautiful hike.
Fantastic views of a Mt Stuart disappearing into the clouds.
Made it to the lake and set up camp around 4pm. We had planned to continue up to Lake Caroline without our packs, but we got a late start so decided against it this time. Time for dinner!
For dinner, we shared 2 dehydrated meals, a Thai Curry made by Good To-Go, and the Rice & Burrito Bowl made by Alpine Aire. Both were quite tasty. For dessert we made some backcountry popcorn. After dinner we put all of the food in a bag and hung it from a tree about 100 feet from our tent to prevent hungry critters (big and small) from coming into our camp at night.
The clouds cleared off before dark so we were able to lay out and watch the stars come out. Saw several shooting stars, satellites, and the milky way. It was a cold night for us, but we managed to get some sleep. We will probably invest in some better sleeping bags soon.
In the morning, we went and explored around the lake for a while before breakfast. For breakfast we had oatmeal with dehydrated blueberries, hard boiled eggs, and tea/coffee. The Starbucks instant coffee is great to take camping or backpacking.
After breakfast we broke down our camp and started back down the trail, making sure to pack out everything we had packed in. It was a great trip and first experience overnight backpacking for Jen.
Before you set out on your first backpacking adventure, read our guide to avoiding blister when hiking.
Have you ever passed a hiker on the trail who looked prepared to summit K2 at any moment? I know I have, even on easy trails with the city in clear visibility. I have also watched as tourists in sandals and business casual attire embarked into the Grand Canyon, armed with Venti Starbucks drinks instead of water.
It can seem difficult to strike balance between overconcern and under preparation. That line was blurry to me when I began hiking alone, often resulting in me placing myself in needlessly uncomfortable and unsafe situations. What seemed missing was a description of the necessities of safe hiking, presented with reason and practicality for the beginner hiker in mind.
Hiking... it is both calming and energizing. It is when I often feel most free. It can be whatever you want it to be- thoughtful or meditative, relaxing or challenging. It is a way to connect with the natural world, with others, and with yourself. It makes you more appreciative, and helps you understand your relative size. You discover beautiful things on every trail. It is one of the healthiest and most refreshing activities available.
|Small||4 - 6.5||2 - 4.5||35 - 37||20.5 - 23|
7 - 9.5
|5 - 7.5||38 - 40||23.5 - 25.5|
|8 - 10.5||41 - 45||26 - 28.5|
13.5 - 15
|11 - 13.5||46 - 49||29 - 31|
|Small||N/A||N/A||N/A||20.5 - 23|
6 - 8.5
|5.5 - 8||39 - 41||23.5 - 25.5|
|8.5 - 11||42 - 44||26 - 28.5|
12 - 14.5
|11.5 - 14||45 - 47||29 - 31|
|WOMEN'S||FITS SIZES||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||2 - 4||Length: 26"||Width: 15 ¾"|
|Medium||6 - 8||Length: 26 ½"||Width: 16 ½"|
|Large||8 - 10||Length: 27 ⅛ "||Width: 17 ½"|
|X-Large||10 - 14||Length: 27 ¾"||Width: 18 ½"|
|2X-Large||14 - 18||Length: 28 ⅜"||Width: 19 ½|
|MEN'S / UNISEX||CHEST TO FIT||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||34 - 37||Length: 28"||Width: 18"|
38 - 41
|Length: 29"||Width: 20"|
42 - 45
|Length: 30"||Width: 22"|
46 - 49
|Length: 31"||Width: 24"|
|2X-Large||50 - 53||Length: 32"||Width: 26"|