Yellow River State Forest
I had hoped to declare this as my first overnight hiking trip, but it was not to be. I did complete a challenging hike through the Yellow River State Forest in the Driftless region of Northeast Iowa.
I started this post with “I had a lovely hike yesterday…” but deleted it. It was not lovely*. It was super challenging.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m chaperoning a 10-day backpacking trip in Utah this summer. I got the backpacking bug two years ago when I accompanied my friend Liz and her family on the Camino de Santiago across Galacia in Spain. Since then I’ve taken my dogs for three-mile walks here and there and I ran/walked six miles once this winter. I have fancied myself an outdoor type and have pondered doing the Appalachian trail in my lifetime, even saying so to other people.
What I failed to remember was that on the Camino I ate most of my meals at restaurants, slept in a hotel every night, and only carried a 20-lb pack. Oh, and I haven’t exercised regularly this entire school year.
So. Yesterday was not lovely. Great, but not lovely.
My pack to start the day was ~40 lbs and the first mile was uphill on rocks. It was about three miles to camp where we could drop some weight. The route we picked for the afternoon was another uphill to start but leveled out (after another mile) for some easy walking. A colleague with a fancier watch than me said we did about 12 miles and 100 flights of stairs.
Thoughts throughout the day included…
- I’m breathing ok, so at least I’m not going to drop over dead.
- My heart is not beating too fast, so at least I’m not going to drop over dead.
- My bad knee is the least painful part of me right now.
- Nothing feels broken…
- What do I have planned for Monday? Could a sub handle it?
The kids on the trip are from the other high school in the district I work for and I was happy to find they were fun, kind, and industrious. My co-chaperone is great too. I enjoyed my time with everyone and am not worried about a 16-hour van ride or the close quarters hiking and camping.
I’m confident that after a long day hiking I will sleep like a baby no matter the conditions. I didn’t get to test my theory, as lightning started in the distance at about 8 pm. The more athletic chaperones ran to the vans while the rest of us broke camp and hiked to the road. The vans arrived just as heavy rain and lightning made it to us.
Overall I would classify Saturday as a Good Day, but it was more of a learning experience than an enjoyable one. I have a lot of work to put in and not much time to do it. So if you locals see me marching up and down First Street with a giant backpack, you know what I’m up to.
*A coworker pointed out that they had to know me for a little while to figure out that I actually mean “lovely” when I say it and that I’m not being sarcastic. Which is especially confusing because although I like quaint words, I also appreciate sarcasm and irony.