Backpacking adventure in Arizona
On Friday night a small group of seven women met to camp at the Lost Dutchman campgrounds for a potluck and briefing on what to expect when we head out into the desert the next day. We were camping for the night there to give us all a chance to set up our tents and talk about gear. Making sure we all had what we needed to survive one night of backpacking. The opportunity to meet everyone and sit around the fire talking was the perfect way for our backpacking leader, Kathy from Arizona Outdoor Women, to give us all the information we needed to safely head into the desert.
As the "leader" of an adventure group you would expect me not to get nervous anymore about things like backpacking in the desert, but I still do and it comes out in the ugliest of ways. I get snippy, crabby, tired, basically I begin acting like a hungry 3 year old. Sadly, I don't always know that's what is happening with me. I think It's all just hormones or too much sugar. Lucky for me I have very patient people in my life who after many years living with me know what's going on.
What I've learned about my anxiety is that the more I plan the more in control the anxiety is. I felt prepared for this trip but the week got away from me and I just didn't have anything together leading to the high anxiety days. Luckily, I have a very helpful partner in crime who managed to gather my stuff while I worked on Friday so I could come home and grab to go.
With my gear in my pack, Saturday morning we started on the First water trail in Lost Dutchman State Park. This was a 3 mile trail out to our water source and camp location. The water source is a spring which was a small trickle into a slightly bigger pool under a giant rock. It was beautiful once we arrived. Our hike out included several breaks along the way. Once for a snack and once for lunch. We are all avid hikers but things change when you put almost 40 pounds on your back. You get tired faster and even though I did some training hikes in the Phoenix mountain Preserve I was grateful for the occasional break.
This trail is really beautiful. I would recommend a day hike out there if you want some cool scenery. You can easily make it a loop. Be sure to snap a picture of the map at the trailhead so you have a good reference point as you hike. The trails in Lost Dutchman State Park are well marked and easy to follow. There are bathrooms at the trailhead but no running water so bring plenty!
Once we arrived at the spring we set up camp. There was plenty of room at this location to support all seven of us. We had five tents total and were able to spread out fairly well. I parked my tent at the edge since my ultimate goal is to eventually go backpacking alone. I thought my anxiety would creep back in at this point. The worry of what's out there while I'm trying to sleep in a tent can be unsettling for me, but being alone at the edge was no problem other than the friendly tarantula who decided to hang out next to my tent. Okay, that was a little creepy.
There was a little trail we took after setup to go out exploring. After review of the map we figured out we could take it another 4 miles to Canyon Lake. Good to know! We also ran into another group of women backpackers who started at Peralta Trail and were ending at Canyon Lake. They were hiking with REI. So awesome to see women empowering themselves in the great outdoors!
Saturday night we were able to make a small fire and enjoy some wonderful company. The camping spot already had a fire ring made with rocks. Dinner for me was Chana Masala by backpackers pantry. It was good. Spicy! I was a little surprised by how much kick it had!
After dinner it was time to string up our food and start winding down from the day. Kathy had this great tip for storing rope and getting it easily up and over branches. With our food stored safely away from camp we said our good nights and zipped up into our tents. Amazingly all thoughts of tarantulas disappeared as I read for a few minutes and quickly fell asleep. The kind of tired backpacking creates is so good.
Use a coin purse and paracord to tie your food up to a tree. You can store the cord in the purse until you are ready to use it. Simply fill the coin purse with rocks and throw that over the branch to tie up your food. This will keep the critters away from it.
Sunday morning it was time for coffee and to pack up camp and head out. We were all motivated by the lure of hot showers and cheese burgers which we had been talking about all night. We all pumped some water and finished our coffee then off we went. Amazing how much easier hiking out was.
We had a great time learning about backpacking. I know I'm not the only one who felt a lot more confident after that weekend. My anxiety is under control thanks to planning and getting a little more experience under my belt, and I can't wait to go backpacking again! We will be planning* many more trips in Women on Adventures future.
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