That's the way our discussions started when we spoke of hiking Half Dome in Yosemite. The desire was real, but it was a conversation about the future, much like retirement, or cleaning out the garage.
I love Sports Basement. (I know that's an abrupt transition, but bear with me.) For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to visit a Sports Basement, it's a quirky, San Francisco version of REI. I talked Kimber into swinging by one morning on our way to work as I desperately needed some running nutrition supplies and they have EVERY flavor of GU ever invented, including my current favorite, root beer. You can't find that shit just anywhere.
While I was fondling the packaged goods, Kimber was collecting literature on all the adventures Sports Basement offers. One just happened to be a 3-day, 2-night tour in Yosemite that includes Half Dome and covers 24 miles at oxygen-deprived altitude while carrying a 35+lb backpack. Granted, it's not Mount Everest (a *slight* 20,000 feet difference) but when Kimber surprised me by actually signing up for the trip, I knew this would require some training. And equipment. Lots and lots of equipment.
While tempting, we decided we might as well try to hoist the equipment ourselves. We booked a night nearby at a hike-in campground at Point Reyes, a gorgeous National Park along the Pacific Coast. Our kids decided to join us while we tested our mettle and equipment. The kids carry book-laden backpacks daily to school, which is why they are both probably about 3 inches shorter than their full potential and mostly unfazed by 25 pounds worth of tents and sleeping bags.
One of the benefits of having to transport everything you need on your back is that you quickly decide there's not much you really need. Tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags. Done. We had our camp set up in record time. After our simple dinner of cheese and bread, the mosquitos swarmed, so we promptly decided it was time for bed. Or at least time to get in our tents.
Now, my husband is the kind of guy who never wants to err on the side of "too little." We always have enough food to generously feed 20 when we're throwing a party for 8. And in the case of camping equipment, he insisted we buy gear rated for Mt. Everest conditions. Which is how I found myself weighing the options of skipping my sleeping bag all together or sweating profusely in a claustrophobic mummy bag rated for 5 degrees when it was 60 outside. I compromised and unzipped all but the smallest of sections in the middle so that I could have both my feet and arms out.
After 10 hours camping sleep (equivalent to 2.5 hours of normal sleep - calculated much like a celsius/fahrenheit conversion) we had a quick breakfast of nutrition bars, and packed up camp. Somehow we managed to talk our kids into taking the long, scenic hike home that afforded some ocean views. Eight miles and an amazing picnic later, we found ourselves back at our car feeling a bit smug. Our first backpacking trip was a resounding success. Our gear worked. Our hiking boots didn't chafe. And nobody sprained anything.
What more could you ask for? Watch out Yosemite, here we come!