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Four days in the woods with three guys – what a lady learned

June 28, 2011

If you’re reading this in a Reader, head over to the website so you can see the slideshow!!  The stench is palpable.

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What I learned after a Thursday-Sunday backpacking trip to North Manitou Island, Michigan, a place about six hours from Chicago with no cars allowed, the lone lady in a group of four —

  • One need not spend a bazillion dollars on the bestest equipment REI has to offer.  Wearers of expensive hiking-boots 0, Blisters 2.  Wearers of $30 gym shoes 2, Blisters 0.
  • Who knew you could be bad at stuffing something into a something?  There is an art to rolling a sleeping bag.  I do not posses the skills to do so.
  • “Do you like to hike?” is not the whole question.  “Do you like to hike with 20 lbs on your back?” is the whole question.  Two very different answers.
  • Men love euphemisms for “going number two” and can fill many an hour creating/discussing/laughing at them.
  • If you’re the type of person who constantly wants to know the time, bring a watch.  Asking “What time is it?” every three minutes is grating.
  • There is an adorable, sweet Ranger on the island – Ranger Phil – who looks to be early 30s, single, no kids [I asked].  Ten days on, four days off.  Ladies, who’s ready to uproot from civilization and become Mrs. Ranger Phil?  I think I saw a taser-gun!
  • Port o’Johns and Woods Bathroom’ing truly underscores that the way women and men are constructed is really really unfair.
  • A lady gets an illogical sense of pleasure when three men not only eat but hard-core enjoy PowerBar Pria 110 Plus nutrition bars, specially formulated to help fuel active women’s lifestyles without weighing them down.
  • I am at an age where being the odd-one-out because I’ve never been divorced is becoming common.  Divorcees this trip – 3, non-divorcees this trip – 1.  Weird.
  • I never thought that I’d turn down a food-item with “sausage” in the title.  Fish Sausage.  Bleh.
  • The wilderness makes hair grow abnormally fast in places on your body that you didn’t even know hair could grow.  If someone were to open a waxing stand on North Manitou, he/she would make a killing.
  • I don’t know if there was a big sporting event or Charlie Sheen moron’ed it up again or if someone’s best friend stole her boyfriend this weekend, but birds gossip A LOT.  Whatever happened to water cooler afternoon chit-chat?  Enough with the 4:30AM gossip-mill, Birdies!
  • Being without cell phones/email/internet is crazy-frustrating when not planned, crazy-nice when planned.
  • I have never loved anything as much as I loved the zipper on our tent; what power, what muscle, to keep the most annoying creatures on earth [mosquitoes and flies] at bay.
  • Naming state capitals and major league baseball teams a) is a great way to pass the time when climbing mountains with a small yak on your back, and b) can make you feel stupid and/or a little maniacal.
  • Axe-wielding, eye-patch’ed lunatics love to lurk around your tent all night, but for some reason, choose just to mess with your mind and not to chop you into pieces, and then disappear with daylight.
  • Trees as laundry racks are fun.
  • Phantom Bugs keep biting two days after you return to civilization.
  • It’s really really nice camping with people who’ve actually camped before.  Things on the trip that I wouldn’t have thought to bring: toilet paper, a shovel [bathroom holes], duct tape, rain tarp, headlamp, summer sausage, sleeping pad, bungy cords.
  • Follow your gut, it’s almost always right.
  • Never follow your gut, it’s rarely right.
  • A car that you can only open with a beeping key-button thingy is annoying in real life, and uber-annoying when in nature.  Sorry fellow campers — I kept forgetting stuff in the car!  At 6AM.  Oops.
  • Having to tie your food in a tree before bed is annoying.
  • I still feel weird getting naked outdoors, even if I know no one is within eyeshot.
  • Freeze-Dried Food in a Bag ain’t all that bad.  Hello Chicken Vindaloo, Katmandu Curry, and Chana Masala.
  • New favorite Bachelor Party idea — to the wilderness, Boys!  In matching t-shirts no less.
  • Poorly drawn maps suck.
  • When you’re around others who smell bad, you don’t really smell that bad.
  • It is not a backpack if it doesn’t have a hip-belt.  Do not fool yourself into thinking you are camping-ready just because your “backpack” is of the Eagle Creek variety.
  • Rain Insurance should exist.
  • I’m as obsessed with people who do stuff alone in the woods as I am on the mainland.  A guy took the ferry over with us on Friday, alone; I eyed him, very curious as to his story.  On the return ferry Sunday, aha!  We sat next to each other and I found out he chose to celebrate his 21st birthday backpacking solo for a few days.
  • Lake Michigan doesn’t have to have be ecoli-laden.  Lake Michigan can be as crystal clear as the water in the Caribbean.
  • It takes three minutes of not being able to find the campsite at 3AM after a walk to “the bathroom” for my panic button to be pressed.  Thank god for the reflectors on one of our backpacks in the distance as I wildly swung my head-lamp’ed head around in certainty I was about to die.
  • Going to bed at 9pm is odd enough.  Add into that equation full daylight, surreal.
  • Wooden signs reaffirming you made the right turn are the best things ever.
  • Taking your shoes off after a day of hiking is the best thing ever.
  • Seeing the small dot of a ferry coming to rescue, er, pick you up, is the best thing ever.
  • You can still be a hardcore backpacker if you bring along a French Press.
  • You can still be a hardcore backpacker if you bring along wine.
  • Camouflage comes in many many many different styles.
  • Camping is the ultimate bonding experience.
  • A Dairy Queen Blizzard in South Haven, Michigan at 3:30pm is not quite enough ice cream in a day.  A Scooter’s Concrete Mix-In back home at 8:30pm is not quite enough either.  Another Scooter’s Concrete Mix-In at 8:32pm, after accidentally taking from the walk-up window, and then eating a few bites of, someone else’s order, is just right.  So what if his was vanilla and you ordered chocolate, making your mix-up pretty incomprehensible.  His fault for not claiming the treat fast enough.
One Comment leave one →
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