Upon arriving home, I discovered that in addition to my large big toe blister, I had developed an enormous blister under the nail of my pinky toe. Penny had a similar experience with one of her toes and we both ended up shy a toenail. The sister similarities continued as we also managed to acquire COVID-19 independent of one another; Penny within a week of her return and I just completed my cycle that started on September 9th. I am thankful we did not get sick on the trail. That would have been disastrous.
In fact, it was a month ago today that we walked out of the woods. My backpack and gear have found a place on the top shelf of my closet. I wonder if it will all stay there forever, or if I’ll find a way to get back out on a trail?
I knew when preparing for this trip that it would be physically challenging. I suspected that there would be days when pain would be an issue and I’d go so far as to say that I may have underestimated that a little bit. I understood there could be unexpected setbacks and perhaps even complete obstacles that would end our hike early. But…what I wasn’t prepared for and what still amazes me today, was the profound and beautiful simplicity of life on the trail. The purification of being disconnected…of going to bed when I was tired, or it was dark…the complete absence of light in my tent during the nighttime…sleeping at ground level…rising when the world around me became illuminated by sunlight…crawling out of said tent in the morning with palms already dirty from the ground…An almost mystical feeling to be so immersed in nature and so independent of things like electricity, running water, clean clothes, and plentiful food choices. I find myself longing to go back. To savor it a little longer. To have one more indulgence; one more hit on the pipe, draw from the bottle, adventure on the trail…Would one more be enough? It could be addictive I think. In fact, it occurred to me that if I’d started hiking earlier in life…if I had possessed the confidence, stubbornness, independence, and time…I may have decided to never come back. Oh, warning to any younger folks…again, that being relative…who decide to take such a long walk in the woods…when you come back out, though everything is the same, you will be changed!
The remainder of this post is dedicated to assist those who may stumble upon this blog in search of suggestions for their own backpacking journey on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Trail. Our goal was to travel as light as possible, but there were items that I didn’t take but in retrospect, wish I would have.
My Packing List:
Osprey Renn 65 Womens backpack (3.31#) Less expensive than many and sufficient.
River Country Trekker Tent-2, Trekking Pole Tent (2.75#) Adequate but little ventilation
iClimb 3M Thinsulate Insulation 2-Layer Mummy Sleeping Bag (1.74 #) Adequate down to 50 degrees with additional clothing layers.
Exped Synmat sleeping pad (1# 5oz)
Black Diamond Trekking Poles
One extra pair of socks and underwear
Buff (did not need)
ERSDGG Women’s Hooded Down Jacket Packable (.88#) Lifesaver! I will use this again for traveling.
Super lightweight aqua socks for around the campsite (should have worn them to fetch water)
Repel insect wipes (6)
Hammock Comfy Camping Pillow (2.75 oz.) Not that comfy but better than nothing
Rugged Phone Lanyard Holder with tether and carabiner (super handy!)
Palmyth Head Net Hat (Might forego and just take a lightweight headnet. Hat looked dorky.)
Coghlan’s Backpacker’s Trowel (2 oz.) Did the job.
Redcamp Waterproof Rain Poncho (.65#) Also used for sitting around the campsite
Extra Zip-lock bags for trash
HOTSHOT Sports Shot Muscle Cramp relief (1.7 fl. oz.) Did not need.
Trash compactor bag to line the backpack
Outdoor Products Ultimate Dry Sac (set of three). Handy to organize backpack.
Moleskin 3×3” piece
Large Band-Aids (5)
Toothbrush and very small hairbrush
½” block of Ivory Soap
Vitamins and medications
Power Bank for cell phone w/cords (1.0#) worth the weight
Sea to Summit 16 oz Collapsible cup
1/3 roll of toilet paper (should have packed more for a perpetual runny nose)
Be Free Water Filter by Katadyn
Smart Water bottles (2 1-liter)
Nail trimmers with file
1 Fuel Cannister (.5#)
Lakeshore Trail map
Additional Items Carried/Used by Penny:
MSR PocketRocket Stove (2.6 oz)
Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle (6.5 oz)
Nemo Hornet Tent (1# 10 oz)
The Deuce (.03#) cat-hole digger
Sierra Design sleeping bag
REI Flash 55 backpack (2# 9 oz)
Long-handled titanium spoon
Hikenture inflatable camping pillow
Penny also had to pack stuff for her contacts
Food I packed:
6 packets instant oatmeal
4 PROBAR Meals-on-the-Go (3 oz each and ½ per day)
4 PROBAR BOLT Energy chews (2.1 oz each and ½ per day)
28 almonds (yep, I counted them)
Backpacker’s Pantry freeze dried vegan meals (We carried a total 6 but used 5 between us)
Coffee, creamer, and sugar
Total weight of my pack w/out water was around 22 – 23#
What I would take if I did this again:
Enough Wet Wipes for 1 per day
Lightweight shorts/top to get in the water
2 collapsible cups
Helinox or similar camp chair
I waterproofed the seams of my tent and my packable down jacket prior to our trip. I also sprayed my clothing and gear with Sawyer’s Permethrin insect repellent about 10-days out to discourage ticks and mosquitoes.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore https://www.nps.gov/piro/index.htm
To reserve campsites www.recreation.gov
To reserve the shuttle https://www.altranbus.com/backpacker/
I receive no compensation for product information in my blog.