Tell us a little about yourself, what are you ok with all the nice people on the interwebs knowing about you?
Spencer and I moved from California to Colorado 4 years ago for the cost of living and quality of life – and it was the best decision we ever made. We love taking advantage of what Colorado has to offer with skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, river rafting, hiking, backpacking, festivals, and professional sporting events.
Why do you go backpacking?
I enjoy the solitude of backpacking when it’s just you and your ‘band of backpackers’ that you’re with. I also like the adventure of knowing you can’t just turn a car key and drive away if you don’t like a situation. You have to deal with what comes and make the best of it. It’s a fun balance of determining what you actually NEED vs what would be nice to have…and whether you’re willing to carry more to have that ‘nice to have’.
What people, books, blogs, aliens, have influenced your backpacking?
Nathan & Lydia have probably been the biggest influence in our backpacking “careers”. They were the first people we ever backpacked with (4 years ago) and we’ve learned a ton from them…like how to set up a tent at 11,000 feet in pouring rain, how to apply musher’s secret to your dog’s feet when he’s limping from the rocky terrain, and how to avoid setting up your tent under what may be a dead tree when night-time winds are going to pick up! I am also addicted to the National Geographic maps. I tend to look on them for hikes first, and then when I find something that looks good, I’ll go to the internet to see if I can find reviews.
What was your craziest backpacking experience (Nature, People, Experiences, etc)?
We did a loop at Cottonwood Pass (near Buena Vista, CO) – South Texas Creek Tr./Texas Creek Tr. on the last weekend in June, 2011. The snowpack that year was record-breaking, but we figured late June would be clear enough. We made the mistake of starting the hike at the high point (12k feet), and hiking downhill for the first 5 hours (lesson learned!). Almost immediately we lost the trail due to heavy snow, but felt confident in our direction based on the geography we were around. After 5 hours of bushwhacking, we found the trail again (WooHooo!). We celebrated with shots from a flask that someone had brought, and continued on our way. A few hundred yards down the trail, we came to the creek we were going to cross. As we got to the creek, I think all 5 human & 4 dogs hearts sank. The “creek” was a raging river with white-water rapids and at least 30 feet across. There was no way to cross it safely so our options were to go back the way we came (several thousand feet in elevation with a questionable ability to follow the trail due to snow), or continue bushwhacking on our side of the river until the point where the trail crossed back to our side of the river a couple miles away. We opted for the latter and continued bushwhacking for another 1.5 hours until we found a dry, flat space to camp. We still weren’t 100% sure how far we’d need to hike the next day, but had a decent idea based on the geography we matched to the map. I’ve never seen the dogs put themselves to bed as quickly as that night. They were asleep about 15 seconds after we put our packs on the ground and started pulling out our tent to set up. The next day we bushwhacked some more until we found the Continental Divide trail which had come back to our side of the river. With a big sigh of relief we followed that trail to our connection and made it safely back to our cars. Though the terrain was beautiful, the anxiety of not knowing precisely where we were or where we were supposed to be, combined with the exhaustion of bushwhacking for hours on end made it both physically and emotionally challenging.
What comes out of your mouth when you hike?
I usually talk about the upcoming plans we may have for a vacation or something big coming up at work. It helps me get those things off my mind. Once I can let go of that stuff, I like to talk about the terrain we’re going through, where we are on the map, what’s coming next, and most importantly, what the meal will be at the end of the hike.
What are the characteristics of your ideal hiking partner?
Spencer is the perfect hiking partner…his pace is steady, he takes breaks as needed, he doesn’t mind having 240lbs of dog piled in-between us in the tent, he’s not a picky eater, and he’s calm and rational in what could be unnerving situations.
Would you consider yourself a traditional, lightweight, or ultralight backpacker?
Traditional, unfortunately. My pack tends to be about 19-20lbs before water, and Spencer’s is usually about 26lbs before water. Each trip we look at what we’re bringing and ask ourselves what we don’t need. Nothing!! We “need” it all! So we tough it out. I think our dogs, Tonka & Moto Moto are going to need to get stronger and start carrying a bit more weight. Sorry boys!
What has been your favorite backpacking trip and why?
I think our latest Crown Point – B-17 hike was my favorite yet. We saw all kinds of terrain and had some breathtaking views, the weather was perfect during the day for hiking, we got to see an exploded B-17 scattered around a hillside, all our gear performed well, our estimates/understanding of the trail was accurate, and we had a fun group of people we were with.
What food/drink do you like most on the trail?
We’ve been very boring with food thus-far…oatmeal, hot chocolate, granola, power bars, and freeze-dried dinners. However after mooching food off our friends such as salami, cheese, chocolate, pesto chicken, skittles, etc., I think we will begin packing a few more tasty options on our next trips!
What meal do you look forward to most after hiking? Would you eat at Casa Bonita after a hike?
Usually what I’m really craving is a diet coke & french fries. If it comes with some pizza or a burger, so much the better!
How did you meet other members of “The Band?”
Spencer and I met Nathan and Lydia at a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog party in 2008 before we had a dog. We met them along with their Swissy, Frisco, and have been hanging out ever since. We met Nick a year or so ago at one of Nathan/Lydia’s parties, but only saw him briefly at subsequent get-togethers. I met Margaret once while Nathan & Lydia were doing their Colorado Trail hike because she and I exchanged Frisco/Charger so we could help watch them…however we didn’t really get a chance to get to know each-other (or each-other’s spouses) until our Crown Point – B-17 hike!
Are there any (backpacking) skills you’d like to learn?
I’d like to learn more about reading maps and understanding the connection between latitude/longitude, GPS tools, compass work, etc.
What do you like to do when you’re not backpacking?
During the winter we enjoy skiing/snowboarding and in the summer we try to do lots of bbq’s with friends and evening walks with the dogs. We have also been to about 20 weddings over the past 5 years so plenty of weekends have been spent celebrating with friends and family…and of course, doing the Dougie