A question has come up about how long it takes me to be ready to leave my house after morning chores, which include gardening and tending chickens. I often have wet, muddy or cold feet after spending time outside. When I come inside, I always wash my feet and put on fresh socks and shoes. It makes me more comfortable all day. This is from advice my Pop gave me.
My best friend, Katie’s boyfriend, Sam, told her of a perfect camping place in the mountains above Incline Village, Nevada, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, where we lived. Katie and I decided to take backpacks up the trail. This was going to be our epic summer adventure.
In the summer between 11th and 12th grade, being sixteen, going on seventeen, it seemed like we were grown-up and invincible. The world was full of new excitements, never heard of before. Every activity labeled as fun had to be tried, well, with in reason.
My Pop was okay with us going on an overnight backpacking trip. I was surprised, but he had been a great one for hiking adventures, and he was all for it. I was required to bring my younger sister, Christy. Katie brought her sister, Marcie, and Marcie brought her friend, Ivy.
We invited a couple of girls from school, but only one of them could go. Renae was allowed, but Ellie’s parents were afraid of the outdoors, so we sadly left her behind.
Katie and I had checked out the dehydrated backpacking food at the local hardware store. We probably got something like macaroni and cheese, and certainly got pancake mix. We also shopped at a grocery store and bought marshmallows and peanut butter because toasted marshmallow with peanut butter is delish. We had hot cocoa, tea, instant coffee and Coffee Mate. I’m not sure how we got everything up to the camp. We probably made our sisters carry a lot. I remember the cast iron frying pan I carried was heavy and it felt like I was floating when I could finally put my pack down.
Pop’s one piece of advice was that I wash my feet and put on clean socks before going to sleep. He said, “Even if the water is ice cold, wash your feet. You’ll stay warmer and sleep better.”
Our little party of six girls took off from Katie’s house. We trekked up the mountain trail on that warm June morning. All along the way were tiny flowers and butterflies. Piles of dry pine needles and cones were under the tall Ponderosa pines. The forest was alive with birds and warm, pine scented air. Blue jays called and kept watch in the trees, and chimpmunks scurried from tree to tree as we passed by.
We chattered and kept our eyes open for a sight of the unusual snow plants that are parasites in the forest. They are protected and not to be disturbed, but it was special to find one growing.
I could go on about all of the natural wonders in the Toiyabe National Forest. It has a particular scent and feel. I am sure the other girls were not as interested as I was to find every tiny flower, but they did enjoy the outdoors, warm sun and fresh air.
We reached the camping area after about an hour’s hike, so it wasn’t far from our homes. The camp site was well used and had log seats and a pit full of ashes. There was a water faucet with one of those pump type handles. We set up our camp and then gathered dry twigs and branches so we could heat up our dinner later.
Nearby was a pond with alder trees on it’s banks and a bit of black, silty, sand shore with rocks and grass. It looked just right for bullfrogs. There was a tiny creek flowing into it from higher up the mountains.
Katie and I thought we’d be cool girls and try skinny dipping. Renae and the others didn’t want to, so we got in the water. The bottom was squishy with black mud and it was truly not fun. We realized the little girls were peeping, to our dismay.
We laid on our towels to dry and get some sun. It soon became too hot, so we dressed and decided all the girls should come with us on a nature hike.
We walked around the woods, climbed some big granite rocks, negated the grabby manzanita bushes and tried to find a few perfect pinecones.
Back in our camp, we built a fire and made dinner. We probably talked about rock stars and TV shows and whatever else we liked at the time. When you’re out enjoying yourself, you tend to blurt out your passions and dreams to your friends.
Sitting around the campfire, we laughed and toasted marshmallows and stuffed them with peanut butter. To no one’s surprise, Sam and his buddy, Glen, arrived at our camp, in Sam’s Blazer, so ta da! He knew how to drive up there.
That was the end of our magical, girl’s camp out. Katie and Sam wandered off on their own. We joked around with Glen for a while. When we started running out of fire wood, we girls decided to hit the sleeping bags. Glen stayed by the dying fire.
Before going to sleep, I walked over to the little creek to wash my feet, as Pop suggested. The little girls followed me everywhere. They didn’t want to stick their feet in the cold water, but one of them held the flashlight for me.
I can say that I did sleep very well that night, with my clean, warm feet.
In the morning we made our pancakes. Sam and Glen had left while we were sleeping. After we cleaned up our breakfast dishes, (we scrubbed them with the course sand in the creek,) we packed everything back into our packs and headed back down the trail. We went to Katie’s house where she got her dad’s car and gave us all a ride home.
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