Monday, August 23, 2010

Ivy League Backpackers...

I took this picture yesterday morning (8/21/10). It's of two tarp tents housing approximately 8 people each.

After a 16 mile day, Big Ooh, Koopa and I walked into our intended campsite only to find it swarming with at least 40 other people. Turns out there was a program teaching college age folks how to serve as back country group leaders ... and they were all traveling together. Additionally, there was a large group of French Canadian campers who I won't even get into. Aside from the fact that large groups are a stress on the environment, they're tough on fellow back country travelers, since they take up a lot of space (especially the coveted, flat, campsite space that we all seek out for a good night's rest).

Luckily Big Ooh and Koopa scored the last tent platform (there were only two to begin with) and they were very kind to share it with me. Squeezing two tents onto one platform wasn't easy but we made it happen.

While we were cooking our dinner the college students (from Harvard) began to string long lines from tree to tree. Tube tents? Tarp tents? I wondered to myself if that's what they had in mind.

The wind had already picked up and it was threatening rain. They finished their, now confirmed, tarp tent construction and rolled out their sleeping pads and bags. "Yeesh," I thought, "what exactly are they trying to teach these kids ... the most effective way to freeze your butt off in the back country?"

One girl literally glared at me while I blew up my ultralight NeoAir ThermaRest sleeping pad and placed it in my tent.

Their monstrous tarp construction blocked the blue blazed access trail to the water source, so French Canadians marched through their camp several times. It was a site to behold, if not inwardly laugh at. They talked and laughed well past "hiker midnight" (AKA 8:00pm) and I'll admit I was annoyed by their lack of courtesy.

Still I drifted off to sleep, cozy and dry in my tent. A few hours later I awoke to a torrent of rain falling on my rain fly. I'll admit, I'm not in love with my tent (it has it's issues) but I was so thankful to have it at that moment. Still plenty dry I went back to sleep.

The next morning I cooked breakfast in the vestibule of my tent since it was still drizzling and water dropped from the trees with the slightest breeze. It was very early, since we had a large day planned and I tried my best to be quiet.

By 6:45am we were packed and about ready to hit the trail. It was then that I took my first good look at the collegiate campers "tented" below us. Their sleeping positions had all shifted towards the middle, kinda resembling a dog pile celebration at the end of a baseball game. The poor souls on the ends had undoubtedly bore the brunt of the rain. Soggy is about the only word that describes the scene. I felt pretty sorry for them all and hoped their gear would dry enough for them to salvage some enjoyment during their six day sojourn.

We hit the trail. It was our day to climb the Bigalows and, if we pressed hard, to make it into town. Any opportunity to eat, dry gear and get out of the weather is always a strong incentive.

Rolling On,

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

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