Camping with the grandkids is always an adventure. Their level of activity keeps me on my toes! I’m constantly telling them to keep away from the fire. “Don’t stray too far from the campsite.” “Don’t swing sticks around the dogs.” “Don’t throw things into the fire.” “Watch where you’re stepping.” My radar is extra sensitive as the outdoor hazards are not as controlled as they are at home.
I forget they enjoy the outdoors differently than adults do.
Recently, I got to enjoy some one-on-one time around the campfire with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Brooklyn. Everyone had taken off for a few hours and the two of us were left to hang out at camp. We sat around, relaxing in our camp chairs. She started to get a little squirmy, so I asked her if she wanted to help me start a campfire.
She jumped up and down, clapping her hands. I can’t believe what I was about to do was totally contradictory to what I had been telling her all day. Without the distraction of others, I taught Brooklyn how to gather wood and start a fire. She added sticks to the fire and placed them in a pyramid. I lit them and we enjoyed a nice blaze.
She volunteered to gather more wood and stacked it neatly in a pile for later. This was a completely different task from earlier in the day when she and her older brother were throwing sticks and knocking over the woodpile.
Brooklyn and I sat in our chairs and talked about how much we enjoy camping in the woods. We listened to the sounds that appear when it gets dark in the forest. We imagined what they could be. Squirrels? Birds? A bear? Or maybe a cow that had strayed from the herd that was grazing nearby?
I had my phone and asked if she would like to listen to some music. I played American Authors and she danced around the campfire in the dark to the song, “Best Day of My Life” and “Oh What A Life”. Seeing a 2 1/2 year old dancing around the fire to those songs made my heart soar.
We were enjoying being the only ones in camp and we were doing what girls do when they camp ~ embrace each other and the outdoors. She even sang the National Anthem at the top of her lungs. What makes us want to sing at the top of our lungs around a campfire in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it’s an instinct as old as time that kicks in. Whatever it is, I love it! And so did Brooklyn.
I look forward to being alone with her in the woods again, doing what girls to best ~ making fire and singing!
Hike Like A Woman is a brilliant website brimming with women who celebrate being a woman in the outdoors and who inspire each other on a daily basis. I am one of the lucky few who is both an Ambassador and a staff member of HLAW. We are first and foremost, adventurers. We are bloggers, vloggers and freelancers. We are day hikers and backpackers. We are horsewomen, skiers, snowshoers and climbers. We mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We blog about our day hike to amazing waterfalls or our solo hike into the wilderness. We write articles about our hopes, our dreams, our families, our hiking buddies, and what scares us. We take our audience on a magic carpet ride in search of the perfect piece of hiking gear, backpack snack or the perfect trail. We tell stories of our time on the trail and share our victories and defeats with each other. We are a sisterhood. We are a tribe of outdoor women.
But hidden behind the curtains, standing in the shadows, are the men who support us and embrace our philosophy. Without them, we would not be the women we are today.
My husband, Dale, and I just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We met in college and have been a couple for 37 years now. Throughout the better part of my life, Dale and I have adventured through life together, as a team. He supports every zany idea I come up with. He is there to catch me when I fall, brush me off and set me back on the path.
He wholeheartedly supports my position within the Hike Like A Woman community. He helps edit my blogs and articles. He makes suggestions for topics and takes me on amazing adventures so I may share them with others. He pushes me to be a better person than I was the day before and he inspires me to be the best I can be. We are a team. He is the man behind this HLAW woman.
I asked some of my fellow HLAW ambassador buddies to tell me about their behind-the-scenes man ~ Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to some of the men behind the women of Hike Like A Woman:
Kristin Smeltzer My lovely man is allergic to the outdoors. Literally allergic to all flora (he got tested). He is the only person I know who has managed to get bitten by a possum. The outdoors is just really not his thing. But he understands how much being outdoors means to me. He encourages me to take time out hiking and camping as he knows it strengthens me mentally and physically. He encourages me to do things he wouldn’t do – like go overseas for a month hiking and travelling with no fixed plan. You can’t get a lot more supportive than that …
Rebecca Connell Walsh My husband challenges me to push myself harder than I think I can, to set bigger goals than I think I’m capable of achieving, and to reach for the stars. But if I miss he catches me when I fall, and lifts me back up again. He’s my best friend, my confidant, my mentor, and an amazing father to my little boys. He’s the best thing to ever happen to me.
Ruth Schmidt I must say that all of the guys I regularly hike with (husband included) have been fantastic and have helped me out on numerous occasions. My husband helped me when we were kloofing in the Magaliesberg and I started getting cramps from the cold water (https://youtu.be/yc1vTKZ1hDA), and of course my friend Ralph and cousin Benjamin carried all my stuff and helped me hike out of the Drakensberg when I dislocated my shoulder. https://youtu.be/IbhRLh843nQ
Amanda Lucy Haskins Where do I even begin??? Tim has carried me mentally, physically and emotionally through one of the most difficult and challenging parts of my life. He has helped me to work my way from the wheelchair up to 6 miles of hiking (and he hates hiking!). He carries me to bed when I am in too much pain to walk.
I ask him constantly why he would want to be with a broken girl when there are so many healthy girls out there. He still sees me as Wonder Woman even when I am sobbing from the frustration of not being able to be the me I used to be, from the pain and from countless doctors visits with no answers.
He has made all my dreams come true while carrying me. He took me and my dogs to see the ocean, which was my final wish before I passed away. He got me my dream farm to live on, which brings me so much peace and joy. He loves me through the good times and the bad (which have been many). I don’t know how he does it with the patience and kindness of a saint. I never imagined anyone would love me the way he does, or see me the way he does or stand by me through it all. I am truly blessed to be loved by this man! I wouldn’t be the strong woman I am today without my Beast giving his strength to me.
When we pack for a backpacking trip, we pack the essentials to ensure our survival.
Simply put ~ Food, clothing and shelter. But, there are other tricks we have up our sleeve that we can’t do without on the trail.
Lucky charms, tradition or superstition, call it what you will. I’m a firm believer. If it works to ensure a safe and uneventful trip for us, then I make sure I do the same thing over and over again.
I wear the exact same clothes. That way there is no overthinking of what to wear. Worked last time. It’ll work this time. Unless I’ve gained weight and have to buy something new ~ which now makes me cranky to think that I have gained some weight and I’ll be a Nancy-No Fun on the trail.
I wear the exact same jewelry as I did on the previous backpack trip and I paint my nails the color of the trail I’m on.
Before our hike in the Grand Canyon, I had scheduled a nail appointment. I thought that was a silly thing to do, as I’d probably screw up a good manicure. Nope! It turns out that my nails were extra strong and didn’t break. Plus, they looked good, too! They hid the dirt well. We all need to utilize a little vanity every now and then, plus have fun with it.
Before our hike on the Colorado Trail, I scheduled a manicure. My nail technician suggested I paint them the color of the iconic trail markers. They matched perfectly! I wore the same jewelry on the trail that I had worn in the Grand Canyon.
Dale packs his lucky Spiderman bendable action figure as his co-navigator. He goes wherever we go. He transfers Spidey from his daypack to his backpack when necessary. That little man goes with us wherever we go. Why? No reason other than it wouldn’t feel right if we left him home.
Then there is the trowel I carry. It can always be found on the left side of my pack. Dale suggested putting it on the other side and I about stroked out. I don’t know why I can’t pack it on the right side ~ I just have a phobia about screwing up the good vibes. When I try to go against the grain, it just doesn’t feel good.
I have an irrational fear of screwing up good karma on the trail. So I do everything in my power to make sure I won’t upset the trail gods. All our pack trips have been successful and uneventful. So, I believe all our charms, superstitions and traditions have paid off. What are your superstitions? Do you have any lucky charms to ward off the bad vibes one might encounter in the woods?
*Remember ~ it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. *
Something epic is about to go down on Hike Like A Woman–the 10 Week Outdoor School. Will you join me for this online class? We’ll learn everything from risk management to backcountry cooking. Get the details right here (and sign up to get a $5.00 off coupon code when registration begins): https://hikelikeawoman.net/outdoor-school
Summertime is a long time coming when you live in the northwest corner of Colorado. It can snow one day, be 65 degrees the next, blow the salad off your plate, then rain that afternoon. I have sat in my front yard, wrapped in a sleeping bag on the 4th of July, watching the fireworks while it spit snow on us! While waiting for the weather to straighten out, trip planning is on the books.
Our favorite summer trips are the ones we take with our friends. And family, of course. But because our kids don’t live in town, anymore, we often hook up with friends. Dale and I have taken our friends fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, boating and 4 wheeling. Going on adventures is so much more fun when shared with other like-minded adventurers. Our fun meter always seems to get cranked sky high.
I have laughed with my friends in a cabin until my sides hurt so bad that I prayed for a somber moment. I have played cards for shots of my favorite drink at an outfitter’s camp located deep in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Colorado, only to brush my teeth with the leftover rum and coke in my coffee cup the next morning. My husband and I have listened from our sleeping bags, to our camp mates in the next tent trying to herd a bat in the direction of the nearest exit while trying not to wake us up with their squeals. We all take turns fixing the best camp dinners ever ~ it’s kind of an egotistic validation type of thing. We have fished until our arms hurt from catching too many fish. We have hiked switchbacks while hollering to each other, “Hellooooooo!”, in a British accent. Somehow, I don’t think these moments in time would have occurred if it was just Dale and I by ourselves. Dignity seems to go out the window when we run in packs.
There are 6 of us who are great friends. Our kids have grown up together. Two of us are co-workers. Four of us are co-founders of a business. We all come from diverse backgrounds, but our thirst for adventure has brought us closer together.
Every trip we take together is a grand adventure in companionship. We have climbed up mountains together.
We have slept under the stars together. We have crossed over 12,000′ passes. We have hiked into camp only to play cards and cheat our way to victory (Doug!) We have sat in the hot springs of Chalk Creek together until our skin wrinkled and almost fell off!
We are more than just friends, we are a small gang.
It takes a certain type of chemistry to hang with people who like to have the same adventures as you do. It doesn’t work for all couples, but it works for us! All the decisions are made easily. All the small jobs that come with a hike or camping trip are distributed with ease. I don’t know how or why it happens ~ it just does.
Just before the beginning of summer, we will all meet at the local hangout, Chippers, in Meeker. We will get out our calendars and pin down a weekend when we are all free. We will mark it down then discuss where to go and what to do. As the special date gets closer, we will meet on a back porch to outline details of the trip. A few days before the trip, us gals will head to the grocery store with a list of food that would feed a kingdom. We will not starve.
When the day of our adventure arrives, the vehicles will be gassed up, our coolers packed, our backpacks ready to go and we all pile into our cars laughing and yakking all the way to our destination. Our trip together will be filled with non-stop adventure. We will return exhausted but with many memories that will be revisited between ourselves year after year.