This past weekend Sunny and I used our driveway as a trailhead. We loaded up our backpacks at the kitchen table and walked to Fay Bainbridge Park (about 3.2 miles away). Once we arrived in the park, we camped overnight, packed up camp and returned home. We called it a “test trip.” We had built up two backpacks with a lot of new things. I had been collecting a pack, a moderately light tent, a small and light sleeping bag and some lightweight cookware. It was also a test for Sunny, who hadn’t camped in a couple of years and had never backpacked, to see if she would like backpacking.
I found it difficult to pack gear for Sunny. On the one hand, I didn’t want to go out and buy a bunch of top-of-the-line backpacking equipment for her, only to find that she didn’t like it and never use the equipment again. On the other hand, I didn’t want her to hate backpacking because she had a heavy pack with substandard gear. I packed the gear so that she had a lighter load, about 15 lbs (compared to mine at 31 lbs).
I brought my APRS tracker to test it out for walking pace. I’d run it a few times in the truck on a magnetic mobile antenna (which is why I use the car icon on the APRS map), but hadn’t yet run it in my pack with the little rubber antenna that came with it. Also, while the beaconing pace that I’d set was insufficient for a car, I felt that it might be the right pace for walking. I didn’t need a tracker for this trip but felt it might be necessary if Sunny didn’t like backpacking and I decided to hike alone on more harsh terrain.
Building a fire was a challenge. It was like the wind was only blowing while we were trying to get the fire going. We had this fuel cube that you dice into powder and then set aflame. Sunny was able to do this with the flint and steel set that was in our packs. The problem was, the wood supplied at the campground was only tinder and fuel. Without kindling (which you aren’t supposed to collect in the park), this cube didn’t burn fast enough to burn the wood. I used three cubes of fuel. After we got the fire burning, the wind died down. The weather was enjoyable, although the wind blew heavily later. We didn’t let the fire go out until bedtime, with some wood that Kelley brought by from the house (Ok, yeah, that was cheating).
We tuned into the 9 o’clock net. Sunny was going to work the radio. At the last second, she asked me to check-in instead. The net lasted for over an hour. Sunny went to bed while I tended the fire and listened to the net.
Sleeping didn’t go well for either of us. The tent was a $17 sellout deal on Woot.com. It is a two person tent with a weight of just over 3 lbs. It rolls down to a small size so that it doesn’t dominate my pack. It would be a great tent if I were on a solo trip. For the two of us, on a rainy day, it was a pretty close situation. The lack of a vestibule area had us trying to sleep around our packs. A miss on the instructions for the sleeping pads, had us become one with earth (ok, a euphemism for sleeping on hard ground). At 3 am, I climbed under my sleeping pad and blew it up. After that, I slept for a couple of hours.
In the morning, around 5 am, I got out of the tent and drank a couple of cups of coffee. Sunny was still sleeping. Making breakfast would have to wait a little while. So, I walked down to the end of the beach access boardwalk. While I was taking a few snapshots of the city, I noticed something moving in the water. It was a sea lion. I tried to get a picture of it. It went underwater. Then I checked my original picture and saw that I had accidentally captured it in my last photo.
While I was doing that, I saw dolphins off to my left. Swimming dolphins don’t make good photos if you’re above the water. They make a good video. So, I changed the camera into video and recorded the two dolphins in a short clip.
Then I went back to the campsite and grabbed the water bottle to refill it. I went up to the pavilion on the hillside. From there, I could see most of the lower park. I snapped some pictures and noticed that Sunny was awake.
We cooked breakfast, packed up camp and walked home. When we got home, Kelley asked me if the trip was a success. In the “See if Sunny likes backpacking” category, success. In the “See what equipment works” category, success again.
And now, on to planning the next adventure.