This blog post was supposed to go up last Friday, but we were so busy with preparations that it didn’t make it. For the last number of weeks, Brandon and I have been planning a weekend backpacking trip alone together without kids to celebrate our tenth anniversary earlier this month. We originally met working together in a backpacking program leading trips, and we have led many trips together, but never, even after all these years, have we gone backpacking alone together just for fun without some sort of programming involved.
Our life has grown so domesticated in these child-rearing years. Most of my life is spent within the walls of our sweet home, and I love it immensely! But it can feel terribly tame sometimes, and I can be lulled into complacency by the false perception of control that a domestic life engenders. I can stay up late knitting by the light of a lamp or reading well into the early morning hours of the night. I can turn on a tap for water, and throw dirty clothes in a machine. I can have access to all the information I need or want at the drop of a hat via my phone, which is usually within a few feet of me at all times, or via the computer. I can check the week’s weather forecast and the local grocery stores current sales and plan meals accordingly. It enables me to run a tight ship when I want to and to feel on top of what I perceive needs to be done.
My days didn’t used to be so tidy. The wilderness was so much a part of the structure of my days (being an Outdoor Education major in college) pretty much since high school, and it felt like second nature in my college days to read maps, know how to pack a light pack with bare minimums, to know the necessary knots, how to read the weather via the sky, etc. I lived a life more dependent on the circumstances and conditions of nature that I cannot control.
I remember, too, how Brandon and I were when we led trips together. The rhythm we found ourselves in, the way we worked like a well-oiled machine, the way he gently led and taught, and I supported and followed. It’s how we fell in love. Somehow in all the rat-race and the complete depletion that parenting can do to a couple, we’ve lost some of that. We don’t have much financially to do anything really extravagant for this year’s big anniversary, though we dreamed of all sorts of ways we wish we could spend it. What we both were craving was just a getaway, our first time away from the kids for a full weekend, and to be able to do it for next to nothing cost-wise. I suggested backpacking, and the wheels began turning. We wanted to hike this ridgeline, starting at the highest peak east of the Mississippi, that we hiked during a 21-day backpacking course we led in our early days of marriage. We called it “the blacks” then, the Black Mountain range, and it is absolutely one of the most stunning areas in our NC mountains. We had to sort of fly over this ridge during that 21-day course, and I was aching to be back there and camp on it, explore, and linger.
Most of last week was spent making last-minute preparations for the trip. Brandon’s parents were happily willing to come and watch our three little ones for the weekend, which is a lot to take on! Three kids ages five and under, two in diapers, and one with special dietary needs is not a joke! So we were super stoked and grateful.
It was so fun pulling out our old now-ghetto backpacking equipment, checking everything and prepping everything, making lists and meal plans and looking at routes. We wanted as luxury of a backpacking trip as we could have, while still being able to fit it all on our backs. The process of planning and anticipating it was so fun, somehow breathing some new life into our marriage. Having something to talk about other than battling insurance companies, bills and financial strain, tactics for dealing with children’s behaviors, petty arguments over who will take care of what, and so forth was really fun. Having something to plan and orchestrate together beyond our usual lives, something that was just for us and by us, was relaxing and exciting. We were hungry for the time and space to reconnect with each other. We were hungry to experience God.
Friday afternoon, Brandon’s parents arrived and we packed up and headed out. We arrived at the top of Mt. Mitchell in a full on blustery mist and drizzle, which developed into a full-on downpour. Somehow, even though it wasn’t quite what we were imagining, we were ready for whatever the wilderness wanted to give us, ready to leave behind for a couple of days our tidy lives for a bit of adventure. Phone off and camera left in the car, backpacks shouldered with grunts and moans, and we were off.
“He split the rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.”