Hiking Together

10:32 a.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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I was reading Rick's latest trip report, and he mentions that his wife came with him for a day then turned back. If she's like mine, she probably just wanted to make sure he wasn't meeting some other girl out on the trails! :-)

But I got to wondering. It seems rare to see a couple going hiking together, especially on the more difficult trips like an extended backpack or a mountain ascent. People Like Big Red get out there with their kids, but the spouses are rarely around.

I know I'm doing a lot more hikes than I used to when I first met my wife. In that time, my health has stayed good while hers has declined, so I can understand her not wanting to come along. Just the same, through the summer, she rarely sees me on a weekend - I'm usually out gallivanting around with a group of strangers.

I'll see young couples who meet as hikers, but once the babies come along, their trips come to an end. One might keep going, but that leaves the other (usually the woman) at home taking care of the kids, while the hiker gets to enjoy the Freedom of the Hills.

How many of you go alone or with friends, instead of your mate? And how do we stop our spousal relationships from drifting apart while still enjoying our little adventures outdoors?

11:27 a.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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I think Peter makes a valid point. Now granted my wife would like to be out there with me but due to her medical condition she is unable to do so. She does try and I do what I can do on my end to accommodate her. 

I am actually planning a little weekend surprise getaway for her in the coming months. This will be at Ohiopyle. Now it will involve a tent and nature but there are also electric hookups, heated showers, so on and so forth. 

Now mind you this is nothing like my normal forays in the bc for obvious reasons and personally this is not the type of trip I typically engage in. 

...but, if it gets her out there then I am all for it. We still have the opportunity to get out in the "wild" a bit. I can take her on the short trails in the area(relatively flat,) sit by the streams, and just listen to the wind blowing through the trees instead of listening to the buses going down the street.

I have noticed many times on the trail that "the ladies" on trail is somewhat of a rarity. I have seen couples on trail but after chatting with them for a few it is typically a dayhike, an over nighter, or maybe a weekend at the most.

I myself have not seen many female solo thru hikers(okay I have yet to see one) on the LHHT. 

I personally would like to see more females involved not only on the trail but here at TS as well. If ya look at the different members for the most part(with the exception of a few) the community is predominantly male.

I for one would like to see alot more female input on the boards...

Anywho, back to on the trail...

There are quite a few variables that can come into place of why this is happening. The biggest one in my mind is children and home. Next inline would be the lack of desire. I am always harassing my neighbors wife. He wants to go out on the trail with me for a few days but his wife is one of those "ewwww bugs" folks. 

The only way I could get her camping/hiking is if there was a neon vacancy sign, free HBO & Showtime, jacuzzi, and complimentary continental breakfast involved. ;)

I dunno. I suppose my opinion is somewhat biased in a sense because I cannot personally get enough of the outdoors(trail time.)

Not everyone shares the same perspective that I do myself in regards to what I do enjoy & what I don't and I understand and respect that. 

You will not catch me dead with a crochet needle in my hands...

Then again, maybe I am missing something. ;) 

To each is own. I guess the big thing is it really doesn't matter what ya do as long as you enjoy doing it. 

12:11 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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This is a very important topic to me. My wife is the best. She has never been backpacking, but we have camped several times together. She was a cross country runner in high school, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt she could out-hike me anyday. The problem (and i use that word regretfully) is children. She just had our second 2 weeks ago, and I'm going out hiking next weekend. I have another trip planned for Feb. I hate leaving her at home with the kids, cause even tho i get to get out with my friends (never solo), i'd rather be with her.

I've actually been thinking about this alot. a good compromise seems to be what rick is doing, a bit of car camping if you will. my young kids can come along with that.

The key is to make special effort to keep the trail from becoming my mistress. I know she could be. My wife can't wait to get out with me, but i'll have to be more patient until then. Gonna have to line up babysitters for the little ones. We are planning a 5 night trip (or i'm planning right now) for a thru-hike on the AT thru the GSMNP for next sept. I can't wait!

For those who have wives who don't like to get out, be sure to find something, anything, that you both like to do and make it a priority.

1:30 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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My wife is ok with primitive facilities, and likes the out doors.  But she doesn’t like cold (less the 70°F!) and has a serious fear of snakes, or any sound in the bushes that could pass as a snake.  She will occasionally go car camping, and has a good time while out.  And why not, I do all the cooking and camp chores!  She talks about joining me back packing, but She truly doesn’t have the strength to enjoy it and lacks the will to become fit enough to overcome the strength issue.  She is more receptive to wine and cheese day hikes, and we always have a good time.  In general she is more receptive than most women about being outdoors, away from civilization.

The kids alibi may be valid for some people, but I found most of these people had other excuses before they had kids, and still won’t back pack when the kids are grown and joining you on the weekends.  I got married later in life, so have experience trying to get other women in my past out on the trail, as well as witnessing my friends’ attempts at such.  Many will cite bugs and the like as the reason they dislike the camping idea.  Another reason, almost as popular, is lack of toilet facilities.  And I am sure these can be valid reasons.  But I think the ultimate show stopper, should you get past these preliminaries is they are unwilling to submit to the physical ordeal backpacking entails.  Heck most men don’t back packing for the same reason.  In fact most people don’t engage in any physical fitness regimen, or do little more than a little treadmill or spinning at the spa, making even easy backpacking trips an arduous proposition.  Face it, back packing is an athletic activity; you get hot, sweaty, suffer in the midst of it and ache afterwards.  And that’s if you’re in shape.  Imagine how the couch potato feels

As for how you integrate your passion for the out doors into your relationship: moderation is the wise approach, if your mate doesn’t share your affliction.  If you have to get out every other weekend, perhaps it would be wise to consider how that will impact a relationship before you commit to something serious.  Back packing may be a wholesome lifestyle choice, but so is remaining close to mom and dad.  Unfortunately both of these can rightfully be considered a selfish indulgence by our mates when it crosses a line, and consumes our free time.  If you find yourself arguing on a regular basis about this, then she was in denial when she sized you up as a partner, and you were not insightful enough to see the potential conflict your respective lifestyles would generate later in life.  As for the potential jealousy and suspicion thing, well if that is rearing its ugly head, there are other issues that have nothing to do with camping.


1:40 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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This is an important topic.  When I was younger I pushed my partners too hard and they eventually lost interest in backpacking although we had some grand adventures.  My current partner is 54 and she is in good health.  She has agreed to one backpacking trip and year.  She loves car camping and especially likes the travel trailer.  She doesn't see the point of carrying equipment into the backcountry "when our remote car camping spots are just as good."  Being able to share the outdoors with loved ones (and friends) requires some planning and empathy, but has been a very rewarding part of my life.

3:24 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

I'll see young couples who meet as hikers, but once the babies come along, their trips come to an end. One might keep going, but that leaves the other (usually the woman) at home taking care of the kids, while the hiker gets to enjoy the Freedom of the Hills.

I've lurked on this forum for a while but this subject finally got me to pull the trigger and register. My fiance and I enjoy car camping very much and are ready to explore backpacking (hence the forum lurking). I'm keen to understand why the female spouses tend to disappear from the trails once we spawn. Did the spouses have an interest at first and then drift away or was it never really an interest? We are eager to learn the ropes of responsible backpacking and I'd hate to think that I'm statistically challenged.

5:23 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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This is indeed a very important topic to me as well.

In my case I didn’t really discover my passion for wandering the wilderness until later in life and after my wife and I had dated for six years then married for ten years.

So I ”pull” this on her after we had been a couple for 16 years (now it’s been 23 years together). Our situation has worked out OK in that we don’t have children (although we were “weekend” parents helping to raise a neglected great-niece for the first five years of the kids life), and my wife works nearly every weekend.

So far we’ve been able to maintain domestic harmony with me running off to the mountains nearly every weekend but it’s a definite concern for me. In fact it’s very hard for me to reconcile the fact that one of the things I most love in life (roaming the trails and wilderness) seems to take me away from the person I most love in life (my wife…ok, well in one sense I probably love myself more, as we all do, but that’s more of a discussion for philosophers and theologians).

I pay particular attention when other folks with similar passions mention their relationships; I was really pleased to see Justin Lichter’s girlfriend post here on Trailspace and noted that they had been together for some time and were making it work.

I suppose it’s a similar dynamic for military spouses whose significant others are gone for long deployments.

It’s very much in my heart to do a thru-hike and I hope to arrange my life to make that happen before I’m too old to handle it. My wife jokes (sort of-she’s also somewhat serious) about becoming an “Appalachian Trail Widow”. I have no idea where she got that term but I cringed when I first heard it.

Maybe lots of money would be the fix? I admit to fantasizing about scenarios where I could spend a couple years hiking (triple crown to start with) and she could come meet me at intervals…..but I must also admit that even my fantasies have problems; geez what a maroon…I project issues on my own fantasies….lol

Oh and Hey Peanut, welcome to Trailspace!

10:11 p.m. on August 24, 2012 (EDT)
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My husband doesn't come with me for several reasons. He hiked and backpacked as a young man long before we ever met. First, he has terrible knees--having blown out his ACL, LCL, MCL..all the alphabet soup of criucite ligaments. Secondly, as a former wildland sawyer/firefighter, humping over hill and dale wearing a pack is way too much like work. Over the past couple of years, I have hooked up with a group of ladies my age-ish...50-64....and we hike nearly every weekend, leaving our significant others behind. Sometimes it's just an hour in the hills after dinner or before breakfast, other times we are gone allllll day long. My husband is happy that I am out having fun.

10:32 a.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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We have done several long hikes together and have included the kids since they were about 3 on.  We'd both select the trip, but she would pick where we'd stay the night - on that day. We don't get out as often as before (as WMW said - cheese and wine hikes) and she was completely spoiled by a trans UK two week 'cruise'  inn to inn (pub to pub) trip we did several years ago.

Age is getting to both of us and we have come to expect a certain comfort level in what we both do.  Besides we have grand kids to get out there as Sherpas for us. I do like THAT part of it now.

Was at a popular trail head in the Sierra yesterday.  About 1 out of 5 were single women taking off (multiday) and returning.

The planned and guided longer hikes - such as the UK Long Walks (coast to coast with e.g. http://www.mtsobek.com/, http://suite101.com/article/great-long-walks-in-england-a35221 and others)- are very popular with women.  It is a safe venue and includes more than just getting there.  There are many single and married women who would just like to get out there, with some comfort involved, on trips that include 20 mile days, who have a husband/SO who just don't have the time or the inclination.

My wife and some younger friends have gotten into researching old mines and long gone towns, then spend a weekend trying to find them.  Most don't have 4-wheel access.  Its rough going, but considerably more comfy than the original explorers.

Then occasionally there is an request like this:


Many of the requests for trail hiking partners on various forums are women.  Don't count them out yet...they are gaining on the weaker gender.

11:53 a.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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peter1955 said:

..how do we stop our spousal relationships from drifting apart while still enjoying our little adventures outdoors?

Make the evening before departures and night back home special occasions for her too.  Cook dinner, some candles, or dinner out, some dancing... Get game!


12:27 p.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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You could always go the mushy route and leave little surprises around the house in places where she is likely to find them.

The I miss yous & I love yous go a long way man.

2:51 p.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Very interesting, my wife & I (kids too) always went camping together.

My kids also went backpacking with me, but my wife prefers to camp close to a vehicle, camp store, facilities, pool, etc.

My wife & I go on short dayhikes together, she just doesn't like being out deep in the woods overnight.

Mike G.

6:56 p.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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my wife and i day hike from time to time on our own or with our kids, and we car camp once in a while with our kids.  we'll cross-country ski together too, though not much of that where we live now.  my almost 15 son might be getting a little more interested - hiked Katahdin last summer with a group of friends and really liked it.

i don't push her to do the longer trips.  she doesn't like carrying a lot of weight, sleeping in the wild, the food, hates bad weather and cold (so winter trips are completely off the board)....why torture her? she indulges me occasionally, and i'll commit to running the house & doing the carpooling when she occasionally goes to visit with friends.  so long as i don't take the big trips too often, it seems to work. 

she did know what she was getting into - one of our first dates, i arrived wearing a blocky pair of overlap leather Raichle boots.  she had never seen boots like that, and it led to a pretty interesting conversation about why i like hiking so much.

7:03 p.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
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Hmmm ... guess Barb and I are strange. We do most of our backpacking and camping together, summer and winter, in boots, snowshoes, and skis (backcountry), sometimes involving technical climbing (not as much these days since Barb injured her knee following Young Son skiing through the trees). When we were working, there were times where schedules and/or costs did not permit going together (such as my Antarctic and Alaskan expeditions).

Actually, we both find it strange that most couples do not climb, ski, backpack, and camp together. Many of our friends do the same as we do. Both of our families did backpacking as families. We had our son on backpacks at 8 months and carrying his own backpack (not much in it) by age 3 (his first snowcamping trip was with Barb at age 4 or so near Lake OHara while I was climbing in the Bugaboos). Several families who are friends have done the JMT together. We lead snowshoe hikes for the Sierra Club together, as well as run training courses for adult Scout leaders (several other couples are instructors in those courses as well). On the opposite end, Barb and Young Son are going to do a bit of hill walking (including Ben Nevis) in Scotland and Wales in a couple weeks, while I stay home (I have a climbing course to teach).

4:18 p.m. on August 26, 2012 (EDT)
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Used to pair a couple but now solo, plus's and minus's

2:36 p.m. on August 27, 2012 (EDT)
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You're a lucky man, Bill.

And while the rest of us seem to be happy to get our spouses out there at all, you seem to be one of the few who've made it work for a while.

4:56 a.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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My wife and I met when she was leading trips and workshops for the AMC, and much of our courtship and early years involved a lot of hiking and boating together, and we still get out together with and without kids. Nevertheless she has slowed down a lot more than I have, and when we had young kids in the house there was a potential new stress on our relationship because we couldn't both get out to play (at least at our own speed) at the same time, although as many of you know we also took the kids on a lot of adventures.  I have also always needed to get out more, longer and harder than she has. I think we have made it work with a lot of give and take, and I can offer three tips based on that experience:

1) Meeting in the middle. My basic urge is to go long and hard, she maybe wants to take it a bit easier. So we work out a trip plan somewhere in between. That may involve...

2)... "unleashing". For example we hike into a hut or campsite, get comfortable, and then in the afternoon or maybe the next day I (or very often my older daughter and I) would run up some peak that my wife (and often younger daughter) weren't up for -- they might take an easier valley hike. Or on the way from one hut to the next, we start out together, but at some point I split off and do my own thing, then meet them at the next hut. Back in VT, the whole family would ski up to the cabin at Trapp's together, then I would take off and power ski some of the backcountry trail (usually Skytop and Steeple, for anybody that knows the area) and meet them at the base or they would drive around and meet me at the trailhead. Or I might take a half or full day on a weekend to get out for some hard core bc skiing or a power hike while she stays home with the kids.

3) Canoeing! It's one thing we do at exactly the same speed, because we're in the same boat. I may get a little grumpy if she gets lazy about paddling, but we get to where you're going, together. And you can pack an awful lot of good food and creature comforts in a 17 ft canoe, and fit small kids and maybe a dog in as well.  Even if a trip involves mostly short portages (i.e. the Seven Carries in the ADKs) it's no big deal to double the carries to get everything across. We've had many good trips in that mode. One thing we don't do together is whitewater -- very stressful because of different risk thresholds.

I guess my wife and I are closer together on this than some of you, but we do have our differences, and pretty much work them out. More recently, she has done more her own thing, for example bike touring with our daughters while I went climbing, our hiking in the Cotswolds this summer after Molly and I climbed Store Skagastølstind. As the kids are more and more doing their own thing, we're looking forward to doing more canoe and hut trips with just us two and the dog.

5:15 p.m. on August 28, 2012 (EDT)
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I don't know why more women don't enjoy backpacking. Out of all of my female friends, myself and my sister in-law are the only two that get far from the car. She loves it more than I do. She's a mother of a five and eight year old. Having kids didn't keep her at home. They just find a babysitter and now that they're old enough, they go with them from time to time.

I would say about 75% of my hobbies and the activities I enjoy are outdoors. I absolutely love backpacking and hunting with my husband. I love to get away from the noise. I enjoy just listening to the birds, wind, bees, etc. The fresh air is like no other. I think I sleep much better outdoors in a tent than in my bed. Even when I'm at home I'm outside as long as it's not raining (even then I'm often outdoors) or unless I need to do some chores or things inside. I run almost everyday. The days I don't I walk the dogs. I go in high winds and downpours, snow, hail, you name it. I just love being outside.

I've been with my husband for almost six years, only married since June. I remember about two years ago one of his friends who is an older gentleman told him "it's not very often you come across a girl that has the ambition for the outdoors as this one. You better not let her go." So we must be rare. We love doing all kinds of outdoor activities together. However, we also have our differences. I'm much more adventurous than he is. He is very afraid of heights - I started aviation training and flew a helicopter a couple of times. I love to climb trees, still - he tells me to get down. He can't swim - I'm a fish. He gets claustrophobic - I don't. But, we just balance each other out and are fine with compromising. 

I wish more women liked backpacking. 

5:22 p.m. on September 1, 2012 (EDT)
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me and my husband still do dayhikes together, the long backpack trips are out since he had knee surgery, and I would still like to backpack. I am thinking about suggesting a camping trip to Catalina for the both of us, no backpacking just staying at a campground and doing dayhikes. I guess age catches up to us all.

8:48 p.m. on September 1, 2012 (EDT)
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"Hiking together" has a sound like music.  Congratulations to all of those that are still able to share the outdoors together in all its forms.  As we age, the cumulative wear and tear takes its toll, but those with the will still go out there.  Maybe the going is slower and not as far.

After a recently broken femur I have gratitude every day for the ability to get out of bed, not to mention hiking.  Backpacking seemed out of reach for several years but is now a reality.  Deer and elk hunting in the big mountains is like a gift from God.  Be supportive of those that aim to get in better shape, overcome injuries, and ignore the pain from the old injuries.  We cannot instill the desire in people to stay active in things like backpacking, but we can sure enough support those that still have the try.  I am willing to carry more stuff if it means getting more people out there that I care about.  After 50 years it is just as important as it ever was.


9:13 a.m. on September 2, 2012 (EDT)
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We do 2-3 short (4 miles or so) backpacking trips together, but usually go solo or with friends.

She likes our annual Adirondacks trips to the lake where we take our boat to an island, with all the good food, heavy gear, beer and dogs, and hang/relax for a few days. I do get board quick sometimes.

We run a business together so it's hard for us to both get away at the same time. But we accommodate each others needs to get away from it all.

10:06 a.m. on September 2, 2012 (EDT)
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Trailjester said:

me and my husband still do dayhikes together, the long backpack trips are out since he had knee surgery, and I would still like to backpack. I am thinking about suggesting a camping trip to Catalina for the both of us, no backpacking just staying at a campground and doing dayhikes. I guess age catches up to us all.

 If you mean Catalina Island -- my wife and I did a 25th Anniversary kayak trip there, just rented sit-on tops and paddled into a campsite, stayed two nights with a day trip in between. HIghly recommended, and not so hard on the knees!

4:27 p.m. on September 3, 2012 (EDT)
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yes we have been there before on group camping trips. stay at little harbor campground and go on daytrips. I don't know if we will get there this year, they are booked solid till october. bummer. I guess I have to plan ahead next time. we could go in october I guess, but by then the wind is bad on the backside and it makes for a hard time tent camping with the big floppy tent (we use it for car camping in the desert).

4:08 p.m. on September 7, 2012 (EDT)
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Glad to hear from a few of the ladies...I have the opposite issue -- as a teacher, I have more summer time to do stuff, and my husband has to work.

My best friend and I have done a ladies only trip for the last several years, and I rarely see ladies only groups on the trail.

But, while I do see lots of buddy duos and groups, I see many many couples doing the outdoor adventure thing. 

This summer, while he and I haven't been able to do any backpacking, we've done some great hikes, and we have done two bike-n- hikes of 18 and 20 total miles respectively on Mt. Rainier. We had a blast doing that kind of mileage and getting deep into the woods -- lots of bang for the buck!

Guess we are kind of weird too, in that we both prefer to grocery shop together, as often as we can. We like making those decisions together.

Wish the ladies could really see what they are missing by not "getting out there" with their fellas or their other friends.

3:38 p.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Just do what i do....Hike once a year lol

7:36 p.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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hike once a year? eek! that sounds like torture to me...even now I hear my daypack calling...

9:14 p.m. on September 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Once a year? Are you MAD?

If I find myself sitting at home on a weekend, I go stir-crazy real fast. I don't understand how anyone can waste their life watching mindless drivel on TV or surfing the internet.

There's a scene in the movie 'Papillon' where Steve McQueen, hallucinating after six months in solitary, is called in front of a panel of judges. They clear him of the murder he was sentenced for, but convict him for having led 'a wasted life'.

When people think about me, I'd like it if they say I took them places they'd never been, to see things they'd never expected to see, and to do things they didn't think they could ever accomplish.

9:16 a.m. on September 14, 2012 (EDT)
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when you have a 3 and a 1 year old, getting out can be tough. Not to be taken the wrong way but i choose to be a good dad vs a selfish dad. Now if i didn't have to work or could in general spend more hours a day at home, then getting out would be easier.

10:48 a.m. on September 14, 2012 (EDT)
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omatty said:

when you have a 3 and a 1 year old, getting out can be tough.

Hardly a 'wasted life'. We all make do with what we can. And soon, you'll get the opportunity to introduce your children to life outdoors.

10:29 p.m. on September 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Aaaaand....... PATMAN proves me wrong!

11:06 p.m. on September 23, 2012 (EDT)
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WE've hiked together about 750 miles of backpacking in the past six years.  My wife is not only my best friend, but also my hiking buddy.  I wouldn't have it any other way!


And yes, we make allowances for each other, so that we can do this together.


Highly recommended.

June 25, 2018
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