Last year, for my birthday my wife got me a gift that I longed for: a camping tent. Now I had no excuse to postpone the thing that I really wanted to do: backpacking. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. A tent is not enough, so after a trip to REI (or two), i got everything else that I needed. Including a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, stove and cookware, tent footprint, etc. At least I had all the hiking gear, so I didn’t have to buy boots, clothing or a backpack. At that moment is when you realize how expensive this thing can be. Is it worth? If you ask me I would say a big loud YES.
I have the luck to live in Southern California, where you have plenty of places to go camping/backpacking and the weather is so nice 90% of the times you don’t have to worry about it (but always check before going out :)) even in winter, so looking for a place for a first trip wasn’t a problem. The problem was to choose which one from all the wonderful places to be the first. My choice was a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail in Los Angeles National Forest. The starting point of my little adventure was Three Points Trailhead, just a one hour drive from my home in Pasadena. From here I would follow the PCT southbound (or should I say eastbound) to the Cooper Canyon Trail Camp, a 13km. hike without steep grades (only 500m. of elevation change) which sound perfect for the first time carrying all the camping gear.
So on one surprisingly cloudy Saturday afternoon of September, after planning my route and giving notice of my plans to some friends I parked in an empty parking at the Three Points Trailhead and set off for the PCT. A few minutes on my hike it started to drizzle, and the refreshing was welcomed but it also worried me that I had to pitch the tent in the rain, probably too much for a first time, even though the tent, a Kelty TN 2 Person Tent seemed very easy to pitch. But the rain didn’t go any further than a drizzle, which was a relief.
After 3 hours of hiking I arrived to the Cooper Canyon Trail camp which I didn’t expect to find anyone since I didn’t cross a soul in the whole hike but turns out there was a whole group of boy scouts there! I explored around, found a nice spot and started to pitch my tent. I turned out to be easier than I thought, the Kelty tent has has nice color-coded guides and a clever system to attach the tent to the poles. In less than 10 minutes I was all set!
Since I was almost all alone (the boy scouts group was a few meters away, I couldn’t even hear them) and I didn’t have much to do, I just read my book, enjoyed the sounds of the forest and prepared a nice warm noodle soup for dinner. A little bit after dark and I guess because I was tired of the hike, I fall sleep almost instantaneously and slept like a rock the whole night.
With the first lights of the day I emerged from the tent and felt the nice fresh air in my face, it was a sensation that I really wanted to feel. All this years hiking around and I never got to camp (except from that time that I bivouacked while climbing Pica d’Estats in the Pyrenees. It felt so good to cross that from the bucket list.
Probably one of the best things while backpacking is the morning coffee. An thanks to another present from the wife, this awesome device: Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker I was able to enjoy an awesome perfectly brewed cup of coffee like if I was in a city coffee shop. But better, because I was in the mountains. Such joy to hold a warm cup in your hands while the sun comes up between the trees. It’s just one of the best feelings.
And just like that, after breakfast, I packed up and hiked back the 12km of PCT in a beautiful California-style sunny day. Then I drove back to the civilization. Back to Slack messages, car horns and mobiles buzzing. It was such a nice experience that sometimes, in the office, I just sit staring the ceiling daydreaming of that first backpacking trip and looking forward for the next. When will it be? Where I’ll go? The only thing I know is that it will be awesome. I cannot think of getting tired of being in the outdoors.