Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Years' Resolutions, Inspired by Backpacking

It's hard to believe that there was a time, not even a year ago, that I'd drag Wes, kicking and screaming out of bed, to go on hikes with me.  Just this past summer, he magically started suggesting going on hikes sometime in April, and then it all erupted into a hiking/trekking/backpacking bonanza almost every weekend.  Suddenly, he was shopping for trekking poles, hydration packs, good socks, and even breathable hiking underwear!  Okay... hold up... I'm not sure how this happened!!  Did I create this monster?!

I could have been cheering and thanking the gods, but that horrible miserly side of me took over.  There were differences in opinion regarding how much to spend on specific items and when to put a cap on it, although admittedly I wasn't even aware of how expensive backpacking gear was, and there's that irrational fear of overspending money.  I worried that Wes's old impulse-buying habits would kick in.  Man, I hated those a point where I would grill him about everything that he bought, even though he no longer is the shopaholic who he once was.  In the name of backpacking though, I stopped myself for a second.  Backpacking is a hobby that I never thought he would be interested in when I first met him six years ago, but one that I had always hoped we could enjoy together.  If I am gonna be so uptight about it, I'm taking away the fun.  So after the sticker shock wore off, I learned to give in and to stop being so controlling and nitpicky.  It wasn't easy, but I was able to actively make an effort to be more supportive and respectful of his decisions.

This was in late October, hence the shorts and tanktop.  With all of our new colorful gear, we set out on our very first backpacking trip, just up to Henninger Flats in Pasadena.  It was so spontaneous that we didn't even bring a camera.  I have only phone photos, but they're better than nothing at all! 

We left our apartment at 3:00 PM or something super late like that, since we had decided on doing this during lunch.  We were worried about there not being any campsites left, but when we got there, the entire campground was empty!   Apparently Henninger Flats was closed the week before due to fire danger, so nobody knew that it had reopened again.  On our hike down, we were greeted by three or four fire engines with blaring sirens at the trailhead because apparently somebody started something again... oh, Southern California.  At least for that night though, we were able to pick the very best campsite, the one on the edge of the trees with a stunning view of of the LA city lights.

These crappy phone photos don't do any of this justice, but it was magical.  The sun was setting while we pitched the new tent.  This was our first time pitching our backpacking tent and it was super easy - I am still in shock with the design and how a tiny roll in our backpack can somehow transform into a spacious tent!

We made pasta with our camping cookware (MSR was Wes's brand of choice) and ate while watching one of the Dodger's World Series games, which Wes was able to stream live onto his phone from up here.  If we were too tucked away into the forest, we wouldn't have been able to do this.  This was pretty surreal too, maybe one of the coolest things I've ever done?  Ah, and I forgot to mention that we stopped by the 99 Cents Only store for a bag of spinach to add into our pasta, because I am going to be health-conscious even if we're backpacking and I will want to have good digestive functioning (if ya know what I mean) even if it's in the great outdoors where toilet paper is nonexistent.  Wes rolled his eyes, but seeing that spinach weighed nothing and the store was only a block away from our apartment, he grudgingly entertained my request!

The next morning, we woke up to an amazing surprise: a sea of clouds where the city used to be!

I've always wanted to hike above the clouds, and I didn't realize that it would be happening right now, on this spontaneous little trip.  Maybe you have to be up this early in order to see sights like this, or maybe you just have to get lucky.

These pictures suck because they're from my phone, but looking out at this view (both then and now) made me so grateful that we had decided to do this.  If you would have asked me a year ago if we would be doing this here together (extended hiking + expensive shit), I might have scoffed.  When we were sitting there above the city lights on the edge of the flats, and when we woke up to a blanket of clouds below us the next morning, I thought about how it all felt like a dream.  It was a reality that was made possible by a blend of both of our efforts, and by us meeting in the middle.

So with this being said, here are two 2018 New Years' Resolutions, inspired by backpacking.
1.  MORE BACKPACKING, simple as that.
2.  Think generously.
3.  Remember kindness.
4.  Take a backseat and TRUST.  Let things happen on their own.
     ^ I think that Wes would agree that this is the root of many of my flaws (indecisiveness, guilt, regret, perfectionism).

I am excited to embark on this new year of awaiting adventures, and I have high hopes that we'll both get stronger physically and personally!  

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