One thing that I simultaneously love and dislike about this single LDS life I lead is the sudden opportunities that appear for exciting new experiences, be they fun, thought-provoking, or service-oriented. Like all opportunities, these have a limited window during which they are valid options, and these windows tend to run on the small side.
So it was on Thursday when I got home from work and discovered an email from my good friend Sarah P, inviting me to go backpacking in the Uintahs this weekend, a quick overnight trip to Jewel Lake, a place that her boyfriend, Brian, had been wanting to show her for some time.
So it came to pass that I found myself on Friday afternoon leaving work to frantically cram Heather's loaned backpack with food and a toothbrush and a spare pare of socks, before leaving for the beautiful, scenic drive from Salt Lake to Kamas and on into the Uintahs with Sarah, Brian, and Trevor.
It didn't really occur to us until we were driving up through the Mirror Lake Scenic Highway that it was a holiday weekend, but we felt it was appropriate to celebrate our Pioneer heritage by roughing it and reconnecting with nature.
I am proud to report that, although the hike in was only a couple miles and not really strenuous, I did carry my own pack the whole way with minimal problems. My body really is a lot stronger than it used to be, and I rejoice.
I actually fared a lot better than Trevor, the king of backpacking and camping, who, on the way in, misjudged a log's ability to hold his weight, wasn't able to catch himself as the log gave way, and awkwardly fell forward, managing to sprain his ankle. Being a tough, manly man, he proceeded onwards and really didn't complain too much considering the amount of pain he must have been in. It did have a sad effect on the amount of hiking we did after that, though.
Although I love camping and "roughing it," I must confess this was some of the roughest roughing I have yet done. We didn't take in any firewood; while Sarah and Brian took a romantic stroll around the lake, Trevor and I pulled tinder off of trees in the form of dead pine branches and located some long dead logs that Trevor broke into the appropriate size by hurling rocks at them. It didn't take long before we had a merry fire going, and although Trevor initially laughed at me for bringing a whole six pack of sausages, he was quite happy to eat two of them for me in return for some of his gourmet instant mashed potatoes.
I also had the great pleasure of inroducing Sarah and Brian to the roasted cinnamon bear, a delectable family tradition that is much less gooey and harder to ruin than roasting marshmallows. Yum. Brian and Sarah effectively cleaned out the bag of cinnamon bears, they liked them so much.
Trevor is a media aficionado, and he just got a nice new camera, which, of course, he brought along on the trip. We took it down to near the lake to do all kinds of crazy stunts with exposure time- next time I see Trevor I'll bug him to send me copies of them so I can display all his awesome ideas for cool pictures.
The next morning, we took a few nice strolls, I found my personal shrine in a pile of moraine rock that covered an inlet for the lake and also was a haven for all kinds of gorgeous wildflowers, we cleaned up camp, and began hiking out. Sarah and Brian began falling behind, and we somehow wound up separated from them. It ended well when we got back to the car within fifteen minutes of each other. But since Trevor and I got there first, we had time to contemplate what it would be like to get a covered wagon through the Uintah mountains. We concluded that the pioneers were very smart to not go through the mountains, which would have been a death wish on the whole expedition.