Sunday, September 20, 2015

Happy Campers

Stan and I just got back from a 3-day backpacking trip to Sand Point at Lake Ozette on the Olympic Peninsula.  We hiked that lower black dotted line from Ozette to Sand Point on the coast.   We seem to have just missed the good summer weather and had a pretty rainy time.  I'm glad we went, but now I am ready to retire from backpacking.

We had done this trip before, and when I looked for the photos I was amazed to find it was in 2008 - seven years ago!  I was hoping to show the difference between my 2008 photo and this year when I am 15 pounds lighter and feeling a lot stronger.  Oh well, my weight loss is covered up with 4 layers of clothing, including cargo shorts under my waterproof pants.  Below is the comparison.  (Note the blue jar in the background above - that is a bear-proof canister, required of all campers in the area.  We had to keep all our food and food-related garbage locked in the canister whenever we weren't actually cooking.)


The hike is three miles through the woods, over dirt trail and a boardwalk that spans marshy areas.  You can't tell in the photos, but it rained the entire time we walked both in and out.  On the middle day, it was dry, warm and even a bit sunny at times.  On that day we walked along the beach for awhile, then over the 3 miles to the car to swap out garbage for more food and water, and back the 3 miles to the campsite.  Just a small day pack on that day, so it was easier going and a pleasant walk.

We had a lovely campsite just off the beach - perfect except that the "restroom", and I use the term loosely, was about 1/8 mile away.  That was an extra quarter mile through the woods for every trip, of which I made many!  Stan went with me the first few times until I felt safe enough going by myself.  Believe me, the weather was so bad I figured the bears and other wildlife were probably curled up in their dens!

Our ponchos get MVP as far as outdoor attire goes!  I found two of these folded in little packets with our camping supplies and I threw them in, never planning to actually use them.  They were great!  By the time we got to the campsite the first day two-thirds of my planned layer-able clothing was soaked.  The poncho kept my remaining sweater dry and made a little tent of warm air around me.  Wool hat and wool socks kept me warm.

For food we bought ready-to-eat camping meals at REI for dinners, had meat and cheese rollups (for me) and meat and cheese sandwiches (for Stan) for lunch, and Stan cooked nice breakfasts.  I was surprised to find neither of us was as hungry as I had thought we would be, and we wound up bringing food home.

Coffee first in morning!
My token veggies
Yummy camp dinner
Stan is a great camp cook, even with a very minimal amount of equipment.  Here he is cooking breakfast, 7 years ago and today.



Walking along single file we didn't talk much and I had plenty of time to think.  Often I thought of the refugees in the news, and how they have to get along without state-of-the-art camping equipment and a car conveniently parked with extra food and water.  Even worse, they don't have the security of knowing they're going home in two days, back to their regular life.  It must be terribly scary and sad.

I also thought about my own life, and realized I don't have to go backpacking again if I don't want to.  I wanted to do it this summer because Stan has many happy memories with his kids at Lake Ozette and it meant a lot to him to do it one more time.  I actually felt pretty strong carrying my pack and walked the distance without a problem.  (We weighed our packs when we got home - 23 lbs. for mine and 30-something for Stan's, without the sleeping pads and canteens.)  The bad part was at night.  It's a bit lonely to be awake and unable to sleep when one's companion is snoozing away, and for me, knowing I would have to leave the tent once or twice per night was a bummer.  It felt like a relief to me to know I would not be sleeping out there on the ground again.

Carrying that thought one step further, I realized I don't have to do anything I don't want to, or prove anything to myself or anyone else.  I have been thinking of taking a long walk - to my friend Mary's house in Tacoma for starters - which would require walking 19 miles per day to make it in two days.  I have a route all mapped out with a Comfort Inn at the halfway point, and all the Starbucks noted, but I'm not really sure I can walk that far.  I think I would feel satisfied after doing it, but I'm not sure it would be fun.  I love to read about people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail or the Camino Real in Spain, but perhaps I don't have to do those things myself.  Perhaps I will just enjoy taking shorter walks for exercise and to enjoy the nice weather. 

On the note of having to leave the tent in the night, have you heard of GoGirl??  This is a device that lets a woman pee standing up - great invention!  I used it at night in the woods with pretty good, not perfect, results.

Finally, I sure am glad to be home, and I'm grateful I live in this time and place of comfort and convenience!

Wet and tired, just one mile to go

What a handsome hiker!  (Photo taken on the dry day)

We deserved this lovely rainbow

We sat on a log at our campsite and watched the sun set - very peaceful


  1. Oh Pam. I can't imagine walking 19 miles per day...especially in the city! Wow. I'm hoping my knees are finally good enough to walk again. I did a short one up in the woods that didn't hurt too much. You are so lucky your knees are still good. Wonderful pictures, you are so brave to camp in the rain.

    1. I look forward to a hike with you sometime, Charla, but let's not be hard on ourselves. A pleasant walk followed by a picnic or coffee stop sounds good. I'm glad your knees are improving! As for brave, once you have driven all day to get to the middle of nowhere, it's too late. Had it been raining the first morning I might have said "I want to go home!", but everything looked much better after coffee and a good breakfast : )