I am totally bummed that I didn’t go on a single backpacking trip last year so, in order to ensure one this year, I figure I’d best just plan it myself.
As much as I’d love to let anyone and everyone join me for the real thing, which could be the Jordan River Valley Trail (10 miles in, 10 miles out) or another similar trail, it’s unwise and unsafe to bring complete beginners to a relatively serious backpacking trip. It’s very unlikely anyone would actually die or suffer serious injury during a warm weather trip, but it could be very uncomfortable for a beginner if they packed or prepared incorrectly. And what usually happens is that the rest of us would have to pick up the slack (which I’ve personally had to do more than once).
I am not even close to being an expert, nor am I certified in anything at all, but I do consider myself to be experienced enough to offer competent basic advice adequate for a simple weekend trip. I also encourage you to read books and take a free REI class if you can ( http://www.rei.com/stores/troy.html ). And I’d love for other experienced backpackers to assist.
The reason I call this event a “backpacking simulation” is because you’ll get the full feel of a backpacking trip while never being more than three miles from your car. The idea is that you pack exactly as if you were going for a full backpacking weekend. Pack everything you’d need (even though you won’t use most of it) so you know exactly what it feels like to carry all of it for many miles. We’ll meet at the Trail Head (which has two nice outhouses), wait for everyone to arrive (if it’s your first time there, please try to arrive early), have a brief meeting, and start hiking the 5.5 mile yellow trail. We’ll end up back at the parking lot, which we’ll pretend is our isolated camp, so anyone who goes back to their car will be considered ill prepared and cheating (but of course, as a beginner, you are welcome to and we won’t give you a hard time, we’ll only rag on the more experienced cheaters:-). We will set up our tents (and then take them back down once they are all up), make our lunches (sharing is encouraged but not mandatory), discuss what we’ve learned so far and answer all questions, discuss what we packed and why we packed it, pack up everything including our trash, and hike back out the way we came, for a total of 11 miles for the full simulation.
If your feet really hurt or something else is wrong, no one will keep you from driving home right after lunch but, if you do, then you might not be ready for a full backpacking trip. Any way you slice it, you should learn a lot about yourself and what it feels like to go on a real backpacking trip, which I hope you do.
Since I’m scheduling this so far in advance, the weather could be just about anything; warm, freezing, or rainy, just like for a real trip. Plan and dress accordingly. There is no excuse for you to be too hot, cold, or wet. We will be hiking a well used mountain biking trail but this early in the season should be too wet and muddy for people to ride so we shouldn’t be interrupted by bikes.
Although I could simply list everything you should bring right here, I actually think it would be more beneficial for you to do your own research and bring what you think you’d need for a weekend trip. After all, even if everything you brought was wrong, and you wore cotton socks with dress shoes, you still wouldn’t be in that bad of shape. You’d just look a bit silly, and who hasn’t done that before?