Backpacking & Quasimodo

DSC03197We went backpacking with our friends this 4th of July weekend. We hiked 5 miles into Jenny Lake, which is about 30 miles outside Idaho City. I haven’t backpacked for a number of years due to many awesome reasons (i.e., we have a 3 man tent and 4 people; my hip hurt; it sounded painful, etc). But this year, after losing weight and doing physical therapy to get my hip and knee working better, I decided to go for it. And like the American women in the World Cup, I went for it with gusto. Go USA!

Hubby made it easy for me by carrying at least double my pack’s weight. He’s kind like that. I put my pack on my back (I rhyme all the time) before we left and weighed it. My jaw dropped as I realized that was my actual weight last summer. When I pulled that pack off, I held the extra weight I shed this year. Go ME!

Trickling Creek we hiked along for miles

I enjoyed the trickling creek beside the trail and the variety of wildflowers blooming. There was color everywhere…and that made me happy. Go WILDFLOWERS!


I’m no pro at backpacking. In fact, I may rate more on the lame side. I had the wimpiest pack and hiked slow and steady (the turtle of the bunch). Despite being lame though, I loved the trip!

Hiking on the ledge above the creek

  • Yes, I got bitten by pesky horse flies (and they bit through my shirt, the little brats)
  • and Yes, I had to do my necessary business in the woods (but thanks to the movie UP, I knew to dig the hole first)
  • and Yes, I had no chair to sit on because hubby refused to add anymore weight to his already massive pack, and I don’t blame him
  • and Yes, my 15-year-old son forgot to pack a sleeping bag (how do you do that?), so my daughter and I had to sleep on top of our mats snuggled beneath the one sleeping bag that zipped out so my son could use a mummy bag in the hammock
  • and Yes, a bear entered our domain on our last night and broke a log trying to get at our hung packs

But the pros outweighed the cons.

Our campsite hidden in the trees

  • Beauty and Peace. Since we were so far out, we didn’t have neighbors 10 feet away from us like in a campground. We had the whole side of the lake to ourselves for 2 whole days.
  • We snagged the primo spot. Having a whole wilderness to ourselves made it easier to do the necessary business. Can you imagine trying to find a hiding spot with people everywhere? I’d have had to walk miles for privacy, and then probably would have picked poison ivy to squat in knowing my luck.

My comfy rock

  • There were enough decent size logs and rocks to sit on and read my kindle, play games, eat or visit on. And we had 3 hammocks between us for extra sitting spaces when those became too uncomfortable.
Gorgeous Sunset

Gorgeous Sunset

  • Wildflowers, gorgeous sunsets and stars. Plenty of them.


  • Yummy food. Oatmeal for breakfast, Ritz crackers and a salmon packet for lunch, and those expensive freeze dried meals for dinner (I had Hawaiian rice & chicken and Lasagne).
  • Good friends and lots of time for social interaction–the kids had no wifi so they had to physically communicate. Besides when we napped to get a reprieve from the nasty bugs, we were face-to-face interacting all the time. So much fun.
  • Fishing. We caught trout and cooked them over the fire each night. All I can say about fresh fish is Yummy!
Fishing exercises your patient muscles

Fishing exercises your patient muscles

Patience rewarded

Patience rewarded

  • Sense of accomplishment. You can’t hike in with everything you need on your back for two days and not help but feel a little smug…or terrified. If you forget something (like your sleeping bag), the repercussions can be horrible. But surviving on your own like that makes you feel a little more capable.
  • No mirror. We got dirty; I had no straight iron; and I didn’t wear makeup. And guess what? Since no one wanted to add a mirror into their pack, we all didn’t care. Yes, I probably looked horrible, but I was in good company so it was AWESOME!


  • The bear didn’t eat us or work too hard to get our packs and tear them to pieces (which would have made it interesting trying to fit those belongings of 8 packs into 6 to get back down the mountain). He grunted and sniffed like crazy, but I slept through it all. I only know he came because our friend told us the breaking log woke him up and then he heard the bear’s noises and he couldn’t get back to sleep because he was holding his bear mace and waiting for one of us to scream. Ha ha. But seriously, I’m grateful the bear wasn’t that interested in messing around with the rest of our campsite (especially our tents where we were huddled in like cream in a Twinkie).

Where the bear stood and broke the log

It was an awesome trip, although I now look like one of these 3 things:



Tom Cruise in Minority Report when he transforms into the old man

Don’t ask me what I did, but something got to me there. I broke out in some type of rash the 2nd day, and the last morning I awoke with a swollen eye. I thought coming home, showering, and being back in a normal environment would fix it…but Sunday morning my whole face was bloated and swollen. My neck, arms and ear were too. My freak show face frightened me enough to run into the Quick Care to make sure I wouldn’t die. I didn’t, but the steroid treatment took until today to cut the swelling down. So weird!

Still, I’ll endure being Quasimodo for a few days over not having gone on the trip. I loved Jenny Lake and wouldn’t mind going there again. But next time…I’ll take Benydryl. What did you do on the 4th? Have you ever resembled a Klingon or Quasimodo before (purposely or not)?



32 thoughts on “Backpacking & Quasimodo

  1. Beautiful captures and glad you survived and made it out 🙂 I am the one with sensitive skin and usually get bitten and bitten and bitten or get some weird skin reaction. I feel you on that one. It happened to me on Sunday after being at the beach – skin on fire and itchy – thank goodness for aloe, vinegar, ice, etc. Need to get Benadryl and stock up!

    Happy Week – Enjoy!

  2. You’re amazing. I don’t think I could pull this off. Maybe when I was younger, but now I like my comforts too much. And bears and outdoor toilets don’t make my comfort list!

    Congrats on the weight loss. That’s wonderful. And what beautiful pictures you shot. Thanks for sharing them.

    • It’s been over a decade since I did this last, and after my allergic reaction, we’ll see if I go again next year. I used to freak over bears, but I guess we’ve camped, hiked, biked so many places where bears are that they don’t scare me as much anymore. I’m more afraid of mountain lions (but you never see those until its too late–I think that’s why they’re more terrifying).

        • My husband told me that most people are scared of an animal attack out in the wild, but what kills or hurts 99% of people in the outdoors is weather. So I just cross my fingers that I’m not in the 1% for the animals because I watch the weather pretty good.

  3. Great pictures and loved learning about your trip. We went camping with a big group. It was lovely, but no hiking. We did go kayaking, though, and I really enjoyed that.
    I mostly resemble the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz. At least that’s my morning attitude until I get at least 1/2 hour to wake up!
    Proud of you for losing so much weight and for being so active. What to set an example!

    • I love kayaking. My husband and I are always longing to buy 2 and make vacations out of that…but I don’t know where to store them yet or how to attach them to truck or car. We’ll have to figure that out. Wicked witch! Ha ha. I think we’ve all felt and looked like that at least a few times in our lives.

    • The doctor didn’t seem to think it was an allergic reaction to a bug; he seemed to think it could be a combination of Deet or sunscreen. I’m guessing Deet isn’t good for me. I’ll look for some other kind of bug repellent next time.

  4. Sounds like a fabulous trip among stunning scenery and wonderful company. Too bad about your face, but I’m sure the trip was worth it 🙂

    • It definitely was since my face is back to normal now. If I had been stuck in Quasimodo existence for the rest of my life, I might think differently. Hee hee.

  5. What a crazy trip! It’s funny how we end up realizing how much we don’t need when it all has to be carried. Too bad you didn’t turn into Quasimodo before the bear – then you would have been able to scare him away! I’m glad you’re all better now. Your photos are so beautiful and peaceful that it looks like it was all worth it.

    • I think I was Quasimodo when the bear showed up…my face was just sunk into my sleeping bag sound asleep. Maybe if he’d torn into our twinkie filling, I would have scared him away in the nick of time. Hee hee.

    • It was such a perfect setting. I hear you on the Quasimodo feelings. I miss my 20 year old body that I took for granted back in the day.

  6. I remember when I went camping in the Grand Canyon I was stung by a hornet. It stung me on my ring finger of my left hand, but it was so bad that my entire hand swelled, all the way up the first half of my forearm. My hand was about 3 times its normal size and stiffened into a claw shape!! I’m left-handed, so I was without the use of my dominant hand for 4 whole days. It was terrible, and it hurt sooo bad, and everyone laughed at me. I was nicknamed “Claw” for the entire trip. I’m not allergic, but my goodness, that hornet must have had one powerful load of venom!

    Your pics are lovely. Backpacking and camping out in real-deal-nature is so much fun.

    • Weirdly, I was stung by a wasp the day before we left on this trip as well. Maybe I can blame all my suffering on the stupid hornet (I hate those creatures).

  7. Go, Char!

    Yay on the weight loss. Isn’t it amazing to pick-up an item the equivalent of what you’ve lost? I do that with cat litter boxes sometimes, since they’re usually around 30 pounds, and marvel at the difference.

    Loved the photos, but sorry to hear about the swollen face. (Reminds me of Will Smith in Hitch drinking Benadryl out of the bottle with a straw.) Hopefully you can find out for sure if it was DEET or some other allergic reaction. I have friends who have to carry Epi-pens and Benadryl with them, just in case.

    Glad you had a fun time though otherwise!

    • Thanks, Christy! Carrying that pack was very good positive reinforcement. I definitely want to eat right and exercise and not gain all that weight back again. Ick! Ha ha. I’d forgotten about Hitch. That’s a good one.

    • Mostly more. I really did love all the peace and quiet out there and thought the Quasimodo face was worth it for a few days in exchange (besides, it also got me out of playing organ on Sunday at church too; I didn’t mind that)

  8. In college I worked two summers as a Girl Scout camp counselor, and one year I gave up counting the mosquito bites when I hit 100. I didn’t swell up like you did, but that itching was awful! Now, the thought of camping is just too overwhelming. 😉 But it means missing a lot of beautiful scenery like you were able to enjoy!

    • Oh my! You poor thing. I can’t imagine having that many bites. Of course, mosquito bites are usually the size of a baseball on me when I do get them…so 100 of those wouldn’t work on my body. I’d be a swollen mass.

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