Countless mosquito bites means that any one of you could spend hours and hours drawing pictures on my back in connect-the-dot like fashion. Honestly, it is no exaggeration to say that there is an excess of 100 bites now welting up and driving me insane with an overwhelming desire to SCRATCH. Mostly on upper back, shoulders, neck, and along the hairline of my face, these little love bites prove that I am sweet through and through – skin to blood.
The fact that I am itching so terribly leaves me unconscious as to the extent of soreness caused by our overnight trip in the backcountry. I’m taking this as a good sign. Last night, my nightly ritual of counting sheep was replaced with counting mosquito bites – both occur waiting for a 50 mg dose of Benadryl to kick in.
In spite of this manic level of itchiness, I seriously cannot wait to head out once more for another adventure.There is something about venturing beyond where the day hikers go with what often feels like everything but the kitchen sink squeezed into a backpack.
It takes a bit of planning to determine the right amount of food, shelter, and clothing to shelter you from the elements while allowing you to sustain yourself for any given amount of time. I am left marveling at how little you can take as well as how quickly these rations add up to a whole lot of weigh on your shoulders, back, and hips. Moreover, I am in awe at just how well and quickly my body adjusts to the shift from shouldering the stresses of my everyday life to that of heading out for a backpacking adventure.
As I fall into a rhythm of putting one foot in front, the buzz of work week demands are soon left in the dust. I am left to admire the beauty all around me… and that of the backpacker ahead of me. All around us are majestic trees creating a canopy of shelter from both the sun and civilization. Our mobile devices, now refusing to connect us with the rest of the world, reinforce the importance of leaving it all behind – even if only for 24 hours. It is so needed.
In the first few minutes on the trail, my mind runs through a checklist of to do’s. Did I lock the door at home, set the alarm, provide everyone with a list of contacts in case of an emergency? My shoulders and back tense up thereby reminding me to relax; I’m on a new adventure and everything that needed to be done was done. Everything else can wait.
I take a deep breath of the clean air and focus on finding my rhythm. I swing my trekking poles forward, plant them firmly into the trail, and pull with my arms as my leg swings forward. As I do this, I imagine myself as an animal moving through the forest on the power of not two but four powerful extremities. Transformation has occurred.
Together, he and I, lumber past the tall trees and plow through the manzanita. We refuel at the cross-roads and replenish our stores at the stream crossing. On this journey we encounter many highs and lows.
By the time we finally arrive at our resting place for the night, we are weary. We quickly unpack and build our home away from home. The moon and the stars peek through the trees at us, as we look up to the heavens to admire them. All the while, swarms of mosquitos race around us like cars racing around laguna seca raceway.
We eat and then we sleep…. and by morning, we are replenished.
Ready or not, we must return to civilization where email, dirty laundry, and unfinished homework await. We pack up our belongings, and halfhearted begin our trudge back. En route, we stop at the stream on last time to fill up our empty bottles, then in side of a hollowed out tree trunk for lessons in how strong grounding can be, until finally we meet up with creatures that have a remarkable resemblance to us. They are not animals but, rather, a species called humans. Not long after, our mobile device latches onto a signal and we are immediately pulled back into life as we know it.
Less than a day later, my mind wanders to the backcountry time and time again. In the oddest of ways, it is these little bites all over my body that have me itching to get out for another backpacking adventure.