Prep Time

9:00 p.m. on March 24, 2011 (EDT)
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As I sit in my apartment in the middle of flat northern Indiana with all of my equipment laid out and waiting, I am wondering if I can narrow down to any one event or experience that is the best. The hours spent prepping gear from either a long layoff or the last trip, are some of the best times I can have. The memories of trips past and thoughts of the next adventure are alive in my mind.

The feeling of waking up on a snowy morning, the wonders of a thermarest after a long day, smashed bananas for breakfast, and swimming in a secluded hole are great things to remember. What will the next trip bring? The beauty is never knowing.

I know that this weekend will probably bring rain and cold wind. Will that stop me from enjoying dinner with lifelong friends around a fire? I certainly hope not, we'll still be eating together. The hatchet is sharp and waiting to get that fire ready.

I see my pack with its patched hole in the lid, and can remember how I was bummed when that happened the first time that I took it out. But, as I think about the evening it happened, I can't feel anything but happiness. The seven miles in the dark on a trail that I'd never seen and only glanced at on a map are what I remember. It has been on several trips since that are just as memorable. I was wearing it when I stopped to wait for my little brother as he hiked up the last real hill on a snowy December day, the 65 degrees of his Dallas home far in his mirror. I'm sure that pack will get more distinguishing marks in the future, what my friend Dave would call trail cred. I can only wait and see, because it won't see a mountain until tomorrow.

The bivy sac folded and waiting to find it's way to my pack. I couldn't tell you the number of times I've had to explain that it is quite comfortable to sleep in. Those poles of your four pound tent don't magically produce a forcefield to keep the boogie man away. I wake up in the same places I would with a tent, warm in my bag somewhere in the woods. There have been times in thunderstorms that the pounding rain would wake me up, but I'm still here to think about those wonderful memories.

When I look at all of my gear laid out this way, all of the memories of the past ten years and hopefully those made in the next ten years are also laid out before me. I know that I have a group of friends to call up on Friday at 11 pm for an overnighter on Saturday. Sometimes the trappings of life hold them back and I go it alone, but more often than not we share something very fulfilling in the outdoors. The gear is ready to go in the pack, the car is fueled and ready, batteries have been changed, and the right map is ready. I know I am too by the feeling I get during this prep time. What will happen tomorrow night? The beauty is never knowing, but I'll remember it none the less. The trail awaits and I am ready. I hope everyone can take the time this year to prep for and take a trip. You never know, that smiling guy you pass on trail may be me adding to my love of the outdoors.

 

September 20, 2014
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