So, I went camping for the first time a couple weeks ago. I’ve never camped in my life. The closest thing I’ve come to camping, is sleeping in a tent in my backyard as a kid. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I’d be sleeping in the middle of the mountains in bear country IN ALASKA, like what? Me. I hate my hands being dirty. I cant go more than a day without showering. Yet here I am, hiking miles back to a lake, peeing behind rocks, and summiting a 6,000 foot mountain. I LOVED it. I’d do it again any day. I’m sure you want to know all about my journey, don’t worry, I got all the details below.
I drove out to Hatcher’s Pass (my new fav place), about an hour drive from my house. I paid $5 and parked in the Reed Lakes parking lot – which I only recommend if you have a vehicle that sits high off the ground – those bumps are no joke. I loaded my 40lb pack on my back and began the hike back to the lakes. It started out as a pretty maintained path, mostly dirt and mostly flat. After about a mile, you start to climb up. It’s not a hard climb, but walking up any elevation is definitely tougher when you’re carrying weight. Conveniently enough, there were switchbacks most of the way up until you hit the boulder field. The boulder field was exactly what you imagine – huge rocks that have fallen from the mountains. You can see where people have walked or jumped from rock to rock, because the boulders have a lighter colored, almost sanded down side. Once past the boulders, you start your final ascent up. Reed lakes consists of lower reed lake and upper reed lake. I camped at upper reed lake, making my hike a tad bit longer than the usual hiker to the lower lake.
Reed lakes is beautiful. Clear, teal colored water, that comes straight from the glaciers. The greenest grass/moss surrounding the water, and the pointiest, tallest mountains everywhere you look. I set up tent pretty close to the water. The tricky part was finding flat land with no bumps or rocks. (Sleeping on rocky ground isn’t the most comfortable thing)
So, what do you need to camp you ask? Well, aside from setting up my tent, I have a self inflating sleeping pad. I laid this out and waited a few minutes for it to inflate. On top of that is your sleeping bag. I purchased a synthetic filled, 20 degree bag from North Face, called the Cat’s Meow. I slept amazingly. The pad was comfortable and I didn’t get cold at all, I actually woke up hot during the night. In addition to that, you’ll need to pack your meals. I made a PB&J for lunch the following day, beef jerky, cheese, protein bars, and candy for snacks (knowing I would be hiking up a big mountain), and dehydrated meals for dinner and breakfast. My boyfriend bought a Jetboil, which boils water in literally two minutes. Surprising enough, the dehydrated meals were good. I’m not sure if it was the long hike that made them good or if they really are that good, but I couldn’t complain. Make sure you pack your camping spork for your meals!
Aside from food, you’ll need other clothes (depending on how long you’re camping), toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer, wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, and chapstick just to name a few. Okay, enough about packing – back to business.
The next morning we got up and began to hike Lynx Peak. It was unlike any mountain I’ve climbed – all rock. I literally climbed up rocks to summit. From the top, you could see for miles. Just below the peak, was the bomber glacier. It’s called that because in the 50s, a bomber plane flew into the mountain, falling into the glacier and killing the passengers. The plane has been preserved by the ice. Recently, with global warming raising temperatures in Alaska, the plane has surfaced more than ever before. Historians and scientists have flown to retrieve any artifacts. Also near the bomber is the “bomber hut”, a little cabin that you can sleep in for free on a first come, first serve basis. The views from the peak are endless. I’m always reminded how big the world is and how tiny all my problems are when I’m sitting on the top.
To get down, you have to use your feet as skis and ski down the tiny rocks. That was the scariest thing to me, just because you feel like you’re going to fall at any moment. Once back down, I tore down camp and began the long journey back to the car. Of course my trip ended in a stop at Wendys before traveling home. Food never tasted so good.
If you’ve never gone camping, I would encourage you to go. Being alone in nature, with no distractions or technology, is the best feeling. Your busy world is forced into peace. You can dream the biggest dreams. You experience God on a new level. You realize just how large, yet small the world is. Lastly, you gain an appreciation for life itself. I’ll never look at life the same.