Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If our backpacks could talk...

 If our backpacks could talk...

As hikers and travelers, the back pack is the most important gear we own...as essential as our Swiss Army knife.  They are easily stowed on planes, aboard trains, and in cars.  Versatile and efficient even when limited to travel by foot.  And they get the most intimate access to our travel itinerary.    

If only our packs could talk?  What would they say?

I think ours would have a lot to say.  

Their initial purpose was to help us hike Southwestern Pennsylvania.  After a single hike with make shift duffel bags as packs, we knew it was an investment we had to make.

{Image Description:  This is definitely not my favorite picture of myself.  I was indeed a work in progress at the time.  Attractiveness aside, it is an excellent example of how inexperienced and ill prepared we were in the very beginning.  Packs uncomfortable and awkwardly balanced made hiking difficult.  This pack was definitely saying "I don't belong here!" Spring 2007} 
Purchased and packed they were set for their maiden voyage into the great unknown.  
{Image Description:  Our very first real packs...mine red and Brian's yellow.  Packed ever so neatly.  They are definitely saying they are up for the task.  Hiking with these made all the difference. Summer 2009}

An inaugural journey, into the back country of the Bear Run Nature Preserve, our packs got their first test.  Or maybe it was us who were tested and pleasantly surprised.  What a difference well fitted packs made!  Supporting upper and lower back alike, and allowing our bodies to move more easily along the trail, scaling and avoiding obstacles with flexibility and grace.

Then it was off to scale the highest point in Pennsylvania.   Camping in a bed of ferns.  Purposefully, carrying the laptop to play a morning love song and the wares to make a breakfast of pancakes.  
{Image Description:  The pancake breakfast we enjoyed on Mt Davis.  Brian remembered everything...including the syrup.}

And scale that mountain we did.  A mere 3,213 ft.  Not knowing we would be living at an elevation twice that, just a few years down the road.
{Image Description:  View from the top of Mt Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania.  The trees look like a lush green carpet.  There is one lonely tree in the distance that pokes out above the rest.  An impressive view in it's own right.}

We were training for something bigger.  And our packs were ready to do our bidding.  Week in and week out, packed full.  Trail after trail.  Working towards a goal.
{Image Description:  Picture taken on a training hike during the Summer 2010.  Western Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to hike.  Having the right equipment makes it so much easier.} 

"The Fontana!"
{Image Description:  Floating on Lake Fontana.  Our packs road best up front for balance.  I'd imagine they enjoyed acting out the scenes from "The Titanic".  Amazingly we never tipped and kept everything relatively dry during our 3 days on the water.  Summer 2010} 
A  6 day back country excursion at the southern base of the Smokey Mountains on Fontana Lake.  It is a delicate balance between the pack and the person.  Test this relationship and the body will fail to preform.  We experienced this breakdown, but with a few adjustments, and a flexible attitude, we turned what could have been a nightmare into a 5 day journey we will never forget.
(Image Description:  This is a picture of our "reduction".  Our packs were originally filled with all this extra stuff.  Close to 30 lbs worth.  Individually it's little, but little by little quickly becomes a lot when it comes to camping.  We did just fine without.}

Let's face it, checking luggage is expensive and time consuming.  Packs make great carry-ons.  We jetted from Chicago (the windy city streets with a great night life), to San Diego (no need for a rental car, flawless public transportation), to Miami (with it's amazing Cuban cuisine), and most recently Oahu (with it's paradise like beaches and lush green bamboo trails).  Ideal for plane travel, they have seen everywhere we have.
{Image Description:  Amber enjoying a Starbucks while standing next to the Coastliner before boarding.  Backpacks offer hands free travel...tickets and coffee easily carried in hand.  Backpack says nervously, "I've never been on a train before..."  Neither have we, backpack...neither have we.  We highly recommend it.  Easy access from Downtown San Diego to the Outer Beaches and most Hotels offer free shuttles from the train stops.  Oh...and there is power at every seat!" Spring 2011}

And they are still our traveling side kicks, packed with essentials, ready for the next adventure.  Hanging within reach in the closet by the front door.  

Do they exchange stories while they wait?  We all know they don't, but if they did I imagine this might be how it would go...

Backpack 1:  I rode to the top of the Manitou Incline and carried a jacket that kept Truman warm on the way back down.
{Image Description:  Brian carrying the supply pack with Truman on his shoulders.  Location:  Manitou Incline, Manitou Springs, Colorado}

Backpack 2:  I rode to the top of the Manitou Incline too!  And I carried Truman...
{Image Description:  Amber hiking up the Manitou Incline with Truman in our current kid carrying pack.  Found at a thrift store in a town called Snowflake, Arizona for only $2.25 it has served us well.  It's easily transferable between Brian and I.  It allows us much more flexibility while hiking with a toddler.  It is ESSENTIAL!}

Sadly, packs will retire...broken zippers and warn straps offer no hazard pay for these trusted travel companions.  I like to think...replaced, but not forgotten.  Pictures and memories remain, of well organized trips with everything at our fingertips in the packs on our backs.  
{Image Description:  Photo collage of packs we have retired.  Top left is one of our original "real packs".  It's zipper broke making it's continued use impractical.  Zippers keep stuff in and that's vital in hiking.  Top left photo is of a hiking pack we had for Truman.  One of the shoulder straps broke the day this photo was taken.  Sadly it, too, was irreparable.  The bottom photo is of Truman enjoying a ride on my back through the Monahan Sand Hills State Park in TX.  He is simply too big for this carrier any longer.}


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