Intro As I started the car, my wife turned to me, gave me kiss on the cheek and a genuine smile and said, “you smell like a dead animal.” We had just completed an overnight backpacking trip in the Wasatch Mountains near our apartment in Draper Utah. On a search to develop a hobby we both enjoy, we decided to try backpacking and fishing.
With a student’s tight budget, we utilized garage sales and hand-me-downs to track down all the gear we needed to enjoy the trip and at least return alive. This was one year ago, and since then we have enjoyed many overnight trips together and have created memories that have brought us closer as a couple. We began as amateurs, but now it is a full-blown hobby we are passionate about.
This is a story about how that passion grew and the mistakes we made along the way. I will gladly share some of our successful trips in the paragraphs that follow, and a little less gladly share some of the many foibles and misadventures that have accompanied us in our eager, naïve state.
White Pine Trail With the babysitter trained in the ways of bottle feeding and bathing, we set out to get some dirt on our much-too-shiny gear. This was our maiden voyage and we were ready. Until we saw the trail. Five miles does not seem like a very long way to walk on a paved path, but five miles uphill on loose rocks with 30 pounds on our backs was enough to rethink our immediate future.
With barely enough pride not to wave the white flag and find an easier trail, we began the ascent. When the strenuous path became a serene valley of wildflowers we knew we had made the right choice. A few switchbacks later we made it to the lake and immediately hired backpacking as our new hobby.
The view was astounding with jagged volcanic rock cascading down in all directions, forming a bowl with crystal blue water lined with haphazardly distributed firs and pines. Melissa chose the camping area while I prepped the rods, reels and line for fishing. After a few hours, I finally got a bite and after a struggle I reeled in an adorable baby trout.
That was all for the trip. My wife took pictures and shows them to everyone, thus preventing me from lying about the size. After we returned home the next afternoon we agreed that the most fulfilling part of the trip was that we were spending time with each other with no distractions, noise, or responsibilities.
Our friendship was strengthened and our love renewed. We instantly began planning our next trip. White Pine Trail
Arches National Park/Moab We thought it would be fun to include our 18-month-old son on some of our excursions, so a few months later the three of us drove to Moab and found a lovely place to camp. We gathered wood to make a fire and enjoyed hot dogs and marshmallows under the stars. In the morning we drove to Arches National Park where we attempted to do some light hiking on the red rock.
I say attempted, because our son Landon insisted on walking on his own but would either try to run the wrong direction or fall and cry. We tried to put him to sleep, but instead, the soothing sounds of Landon’s screaming became the soundtrack of our sojourn to Southern Utah. As we exited the park, with Landon finally taking his belated nap, I was googling how to catch catfish in the Colorado River.
Determined to have better luck than at the White Pine Trail, we stopped to buy worms and hooks. After arguing about the best place to park and walk down to the river, Melissa and I took turns casting our lines into the brown, filthy Colorado. The wind picked up, dropping the temperature and turning our 30-yard casts into 5-yard casts. After about a half hour of misery and not even a glimpse of a fish, we called it a trip and headed home.
This trip may sound like a complete failure, but we shared many laughs and had just enough positive experiences to make the trip worth it. We again grew closer as a family as we camped on a rock in the middle of nowhere. Moab
Costa Rica A map is not necessary to know that Costa Rica is not in Utah. It may seem ambitious for amateurs like us to make the leap from a local mountain to a foreign rain forest, but with airline points burning a hole through our wallets, we took the plunge.
Though we could not bring our fishing gear (no fish would be concerned if we did), we were able to bring everything else needed to camp in the wild. We started with a group hiking around volcanoes near La Fortuna, a city in the mountains. The dense jungle required careful footing and perpetual gawking.
Monkeys followed us while leaping from branch to branch on looming trees while iridescent lizards and frogs scurried away when their domiciles were disrupted. We felt as though we were on another planet entirely. We camped a night next to palm trees and listened to the wildlife as we were lulled to sleep.
This is our most memorable trip yet. Volcan Arenal
Conclusion It may seem arbitrary or even silly to some that Melissa and I simply chose one day to become “outdoorsy” with no experience whatsoever. Typically, a love or a passion for something leads to a hobby, but in our case, there was a need for a hobby and it has grown into a love and a passion.
Though it has only been one year, I cannot imagine our marriage without these experiences, and we look forward to many more. We still have no idea what we are doing most of the time, but we don’t really care, because we love doing it together.