Getting schooled by backpacking kids.

I know, my absence from the Internet the last four months has been heart-wrenching for, like, almost one person. I’d like to pretend it was spent doing something rad, like backpacking somewhere even Verizon can’t get a signal or using slang that didn’t become dated over a decade ago, but actually I’ve been like working and being responsible, which has its own sort of mystique if you squint.

However, I really want to finish blogging my trip from last summer, so, as the weather threatens snow and I put every movement through the “Is this really worth going more than 4 feet away from my fireplace” litmus test, let’s take a few posts to reminisce about August.

At the end of my last post I had reached Ollalie Lake and feasted on a $5 bag of Doritos. Usually if a store is more expensive than Walgreens’ non-sale prices, I refuse to shop there on principle, but dang those Doritos were delicious.

However, what I didn’t write that I spent most of the night worrying about whether my mom was worrying about me. I’d promised to call her at Ollalie, but travelers be warned: that lake sits in some rare ripple of the time-space continuum in which you can buy Doritos but not get a signal. So I fretted over that until I fell asleep. One bonus about thru-hiking: “Until I fell asleep” is really only like 8 minutes.

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Some totally not-dorky hikers right there! (From left to right: Fire Ant, Braids, Netflix [me], and Hot Tamale)

The next morning I hiked until I got cell reception, then called my mom at a spot just before we entered the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. The trail passes through their land for about 23 miles, and it was lovely. Bonus: I saw like four bunnies.

We camped that night at the Warm Springs River, which was not at all warm but did feature a lovely bridge. As we approached the river we met a family camping, three young kids and a mom. Although we all admired their tenacity in taking on backpacking, and I hope to be half as brave as that woman when I have kids, I wasn’t disappointed to find a large open campsite on the other side of the river, where noise invasion wouldn’t be an issue. We spent the evening trying to guess whether they were on an overnight trip or a couple days.

Of course, the next morning they passed us at a spring, and we discovered that not only were the kids totally comfortable on their adventure, but they had gone as many miles at that point as I had, in not that much more time. As they approached I noticed the little boy had a lizard-like toy dangling from his pack’s straps. 

“I like your dinosaur,” I said when they paused to get water.

“Actually it’s a dragon,” he corrected me. I now saw the shiny purple wings on top of it and was ashamed at my previous ignorance. He graciously accepted my apologies, however, then casually mentioned how much he loves Starbursts. But we all knew that trick. Casually mentioning the food you’re craving around new acquaintance is the first step towards them digging in their bag and offering you that food if you have it. I didn’t have Starburst, and I wasn’t about to offer my Skittles for fear that he would actually take them. Not my most generous moment, but it happened. Luckily, his mom mentioned that the only candy they had left was Skittles and some chocolate, thus absolving my guilt. All in all, I left them hoping that my future family will one day be as badass as them. #Goals.

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 ***This post has been updated to clarify that I’m not an absolutely terrible person in not offering a little kid Skittles because he already had them. Which in any other context I wouldn’t feel remotely bad about, so I probably shouldn’t now, either. Hiking is weird.***

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