My 31st birtday was over three months ago. It was amazing and it’s high time I wrote about it.
The first thing that made it amazing was that it did NOT involve a broken ankle, or any other bone for that matter (unlike last year). What it did involve was spending a weekend backpacking in the most beautiful mountain terrain with spectacular friends, my lover, and ten-bazillion mosquitoes.
The high Uinta Mountains in Utah are not place for sissies. In fact, the same weekend we were up there an experienced hiker went missing and a boyscout also almost chopped his leg off. The last one is due more to giving a pre-pubescent kid a hatchet than the intensity of the mountains, but I digress.
Over a three day weekend, our group of ten backpacked over 20 miles. This may not sound like the perfect birthday to you, but to me, it was heaven! We had beautiful, sunny weather for the entire weekend.
On Friday, the first day, we backpacked in four miles on the Highline Trail. We found a beautiful place to camp at Wilder Lake. Cute and I set up his ginormous tent a small way away from the fire and our group.
After setting up camp, we went on a two mile hike to Wyman and Packard Lakes. The views were simply breathtaking. If it wasn’t for the mosquitoes, I could have stayed up there, perched on a rock, absorbing the beauty of my surroundings all evening.
Speaking of mosquitoes, they were indeed horrible. Not your typical, sitting on the back porch getting a few bites horrible either. We had to wear mosquito head nets and gloves most of the time – especially in camp.
The only thing that made the mosquitoes bearable was a yummy box of Bota wine that Chris bought and Cute lugged up for my birthday.
On Saturday we made a very tough but awe inspiring ten mile round trip hike to Naturalist Basin. In the Basin, we hiked to six crystal clear lakes, all just under 11,000 feet elevation. This is where the snow part of the birthday equation came into play.
After returning back to camp, stiff, bitten, and only slightly worse for the ware, Cute and I decided to take a much deserved nap. To my delight, when we finally came up to camp I discovered a birthday surprise orchestrated by our amazing group leader, Roger.
I was completely surprised. It meant so much to me that he had gone out of his way to make my birthday special. Truthfully, it was special enough just getting to be out nature with my wonderful hiking friends – this was the icing on the cake to make it absolutely perfect.
After eating our freeze dried dinners and some packpacker cake, we continued the celebration by drinking ourselves silly around the fire with rum lemonade – yet another item Cute packed up the mountain for us.
On Sunday, we tore down camp and backpacked back to the trail head. Even though I had somewhere around 30 mosquito bites by this time, I didn’t want to leave. It was so beautiful, so peaceful. It was my version of a life void from stress and worry. There was absolutely no cell phone reception there. What a freeing thing it is to not be tethered to a phone! It was not until we drove out of the canyon my cell reception returned, along with 40 emails, 6 voicemails, and a dozen text messages. Honestly it wasn’t until then that I even recognized how many mosquito bites I had. I suppose life’s annoyances come together in packages.
It seems to me the mountains put everything into perspective. I marvel at how much people are willing to go through to be close to them. Extreme weather, harsh terrain, dangerous wild life, less than ideal food; none of it seems to matter so long as you are in nature.
Am I getting older? Yes. But through the lens cap of mother nature I am just a little sapling. Perhaps that’s part of what made my birthday so amazing; despite her challenges, nature just has a way of making you feel good about yourself.
PS – to see more pictures, go to my Flickr page.
Hiking, Out and About, Vacations