I went backpacking for the first time about eight years ago. Some friends of our family, the Maybrays, kindly offered to take me along with them on a trip and I enthusiastically accepted.
Looking at photos from that trip I see a lanky, twelve year old version of me smiling a mouthful of braces. I didn’t have hiking boots (still don’t, actually) so I wore a pair of sneakers. My outfit consisted of a pink synthetic shirt and a pair of jogging pants found at Target. My pack was an old external frame thrift store find and didn’t even have a hip belt, so we jerry-rigged a fanny pack and piece of nylon webbing to go around my waist. We didn’t see any animals more exciting than a chipmunk and probably hiked less than five miles, but you know what? I had a blast. And ever since that trip, I’ve been hooked on backpacking.
I’ve gone on several more trips with the Maybrays, and last year my brother Marcus was able to come along too.
Last week I had the opportunity to bring three of my siblings on a short overnight backpacking trip. This was Mason’s first overnight hike, and just like I was, he is only twelve years old.
As I was reflecting on the trip I realized that my backpacking adventures have come “full circle”. I started out as the inexperienced novice, hungrily soaking up information. Then, I was knowledgeable enough to give some gear and packing advice to my brother for his first trip. And now, I was able to do what the Maybrays did for me, take an excited twelve year old on their first backpacking trek! It felt wonderful, and a great tribute to what the Maybrays did for me, to take what they had taught me and “pay it forward”. Maybe someday Mason will be able to use what he’s learned from me and introduce another person to backpacking!
We hiked a section of the North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail that winds through the Stevenson Forest Preserve, Rieman Woods, and Robert H. Treman State Park. The terrain was fairly easy, with some steep ascents that were moderately challenging. Our biggest obstacle to overcome was the heat that soared into the nineties!
We ate a lunch of cheese sticks, beef jerky, crackers, trail mix, and peanut butter cookies in the Rieman Woods camping area. Backpackers can bivouac in this spot, but there is no water nearby.
About 2.6 miles into our hike we came upon this sign:
The detour also forced us to walk off the trail and along the roadside more, but since we were out of the woods we also saw some better views:
We had to cross Fish Kill Creek, so we stopped for a short break to allow me to soak my still-recovering sprained ankle in the cold water. Marcus entertained himself in the meantime with taking funny pictures on my phone 🙂
Trail hiked: North Country Trail/Finger Lakes Trail from Stevenson Forest Preserve to Robert H. Treman State Park
Miles hiked: 10
Temperature: 90° F
Maps used: Finger Lakes Trail Conference Map 16 (liked the actual map in this), CNY Hiking trail description (liked the land mark descriptions in this)
CNY Hiking FLT – Free topo maps of the trail and land mark descriptions
Finger Lakes Trail Conference – They have standard maps for purchase, as well as instant downloads. The one you want is Map 16.
-Michaela “The Farming Daughter”