Put the team on my back(pack)
What’s upppp everyone?
Team Health here, back from an incredible, eye-opening weekend in Eastern Oregon. Shout out to my cousin Will (I go by Billy in the family) for organizing the entire trip. Everything went as smooth as could be hoped for.
This past weekend, Will, myself, and Will’s friends Chad and Shea all went on an extreme camping trip to Strawberry Lake, and Little Strawberry Lake. Here’s a picture to show you how far it is from Portland:
I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of an outdoorsman. I grew up in Oregon, so I should be but…here we are. This trip took me out of my comfort zone in a number of ways. First, I hadn’t been camping - car camping - since I was a kid. The first night, we just drove the 5 hours to Joseph, Oregon and camped near the side of the highway. From what I could tell, this was fairly standard car camping - we used our tents & whatnot, but we had all the water and supplies we could hope for. Will, Chad & Shea made a fire and had us setup so quickly I barely got a chance to help. I’m impressed they’re so handy. Something I aspire to be here soon.
The second day though, we packed up and drove an hour to the trailhead for Strawberry Lake. Our plan the entire time had been to test ourselves by backpacking all the way into the mountain, and surviving on what we lugged in. We left our big water jugs, crackers, and extra clothes behind. We had a moment there at the bottom of the mountain, preparing mentally for what was ahead. To be honest - I was nervous. I don’t hike, camp, do any of it. But I showed up. No turning back!
The hike was a brutal 3.5mi uphill battle, especially with 40lb+ packs on. We must have stopped 5 or 6 times on our way up, it was absolutely no joke. When we finally rounded the corner on Little Strawberry Lake, it was well worth it. The view was spec-tac-u-lar!
I haven’t spent a lot of time in nature lately, so going from computer/cell phone/gear pack at all times to just like a flashlight and knife in my pocket rocked my world. We relaxed up there. We hiked around various rock formations, followed the trail of mountain goats, drank some good whiskey and cooked up surprisingly good dehydrated meals. I thought I’d be bored, but there was so much to do. We played home run derby hahaha … we took turns bashing huge branches against a jagged rock. Full on lumberjack status! Man, I had fun.
Devoid of distractions, my mind worked overtime. I kept thinking…we encounter so little scarcity in our day-to-day lives, it felt refreshing to ask - do we have enough food? Do we have enough water? It’s a primal state of mind, and one that really connected me to what’s important. Changed my perspective. Camping isn’t bad, its just not that comfortable. Small tent, blow-up mattress, potentially cold and wet. How can I can complain when I get back to a plush warm indoor mattress? Perspective, again.
I used to love to do hard things just for the sake of them being hard. I think backpacking is def in that category. Find out something about yourself! Put yourself in very difficult situations. Find a way through it. Learn. Gain perspective.
I also like that in those situations, you build a ton of trust with your fellow campers. There are potentially real life or death situations out there. When I thought I lost my headlamp, I got a little freaked out. But Will had a spare flashlight, and I was ok. We helped each other and depended on each other. Everyone came back better for the experience.
Oregon is made for experiences like this. I also love that my cousin Will is super passionate about camping trips like this. It’ll give us something to do together in the future.
Lastly, I just can’t detail how much fun we had chilling around the campfire. Some of the best jokes I’ve ever heard, the hardest laughing I’ve done in a while. So. Freaking. Funny. Had me in tears over the tiers.
Until next time,