Pappy’s Solo Backpacking Campout

Friday I got the girls, got changed and a few last min things ready and then as soon as Heath was home we left for the river. We drove out to 151st street and approached the river from the west. The road was closed as we got close but we drove around the sign and discovered the bridge over the river was pretty old and shut down. This was fine with me as it got me to the river. I got my stuff ready and realized I forgot my camelpack but we had a few water bottles in the van so I was okay.


I said my goodbyes to the family.


put on my bag


and Berry and I started out.


Yeah, I spent a lot of time following Berry’s butt.




I started out (and maintained) a really fast pace for 2 reasons. The main one was I wanted to push myself hard on this trip. It was my first time backpacking alone and pretty risk free. If I got hurt or exhausted or sick of it I could just call Heath and have her come get me. If I got lost I could turn on my GPS and find the nearest road and start again or follow the street home or give up and get a ride.  The other reason I started out fast was I had a few miles of river that was new to me and I didn’t know if I would find trails or not and how rough the going was going to be. I don’t mind following a trail in the dark but bushwacking and river walking could get pretty rough in the dark.

So I ran sections and speed walked sections and it just happened that a lot of the time there were trails some too good


some were old 4wd roads,or old hiking trails, or paths fisherman took or some were barely there deer trails and sometimes there were no trails.The no trail sections were fun but pretty slow and challenging. Avoiding roads and bluffs and staying close to the river but not in the river was plan. I started out in boots, with my headphones in, camera in my pocket and Pandora streaming some motivational Gaga or something. I got into some thick stuff.


Plants over my head and no clear view of much but I knew I was along the river. I got out of the weeds but was forced by bluffs and thick brush closer and closer to the river. I found a rocky area to cross but the other side got just as bad. So I took a break and put the electronics in waterproof containers and swapped my boots for Keens.

It was really refreshing at first. The water was calf deep and the bottom for the most part was flat and the rocks were easy to avoid. It was a slower pace walking in the river but we were moving forward and it was fun. I came on a few deep pools with steep banks and Berry and I had to climb the banks and go around. After a while of in and out of the river I turned on GPS and checked out where we were. The river had gotten to be lots of deep sections and we were following the west bank in the brush. I found the trial on the map on east side. It was lightly sprinkling and I feared the sun would not last too much longer.

We crossed the river in a shallow area with a few forks and made our way away from the river and toward the trail.Then I found the trail and a nice log to change shoes on.


I went back to the dry boots, headphones w/ Irish pub rock and a fast pace. I had about 4 river miles of trial in front of me. I had gone slow checking GPS and areal maps several times and stopped twice for shoe changes but not for snacks or extra rest time. Being back on the trail in boots was exciting and we jogged a while. Some from the river but mostly from sweat I was completely wet.


After hiking a while I knew the trail would do some crazy twists and stuff and I would need to move from 1 trail to another I watched the GPS off and on and then came to the spot I was supposed to bushwhack to the other trail. I had not thought about elevation change and discovered my other trail was down a 25 ft drop, across a road and into the woods a ways.

 IMG_3412 IMG_3413

So we continued on the trail and 1/4 mile or so father I found a good way across that was less steep. My water bottles were all empty and it was pretty much dark. After getting on the new trail and finding a good spot we went down to the river and took a break.


One of these guys was hanging out watching us.  IMG_3414

Actually we had seen a lot of birds, deer, fish and maybe a quick blur of a fox.

I took off my pack and got out some food for both of us and the water pump. It was dark before I got pumping so I didn’t take anymore pictures. I pumped 2 bottles full and it was about this time Berry started driving me crazy by not giving me any space. He was either right in my face as I tried to pump or trying to stand on the end of the hose where I was trying to get clean water.

Once the bottles were full and my pockets full of granola and peanuts we got moving again. It was really dark in some sections but in some clearings we could see a bit more. I knew this section of the trail really well and as we hiked I tried to decide where to camp or since I was feeling so good and things were working so well if I should just push on all the way to home.

We came across a few people fishing and I decided to find a remote area and camp instead of pushing on.  We got to almost the end of the trail and Minor Park and then left the trial and looked for a good flat spot. I found a perfect area not near a trail in case anyone came by and that had a lot of thick brush around it to help hide us. (All these pictures were taken the morning after)


I set up the tent and Berry smelled around the area. I got the tent up and my bedding ready for the night.


I was super filthy and pretty thirsty. Once the tent was ready we walked down to the river and I took a swim and tried to clean myself as best I could. It felt great and cooled me off. I got out and had no way to dry off so we walked the trails a bit in boxers and water shoes till I was dry enough.  I hung all my sweat wet clothes, tied up berry and got ready for bed.


At this point things were not really fun for the next 8 hrs. Berry was the main problem, he wined and cried and scratched and occasionally barked if an ambulance or police car was heard in the distance. My legs were also scratched up and it felt like I had ants in the tent or something but I could not find any. The ground was hard but not too bad, there was no breeze and it was kind of hot. It started raining at one point and since it had barely sprinkled off and on all day I ignored it for a while but then felt like it was going to pick up so I got up and put the rain fly on the tent. A while later it got hot and the rain stopped so I got up and took it off. Berry got off the rope once and tried to lay on the tent so I got up and retied him. It felt like I didn’t sleep any but in reality I probably got 4 rough hrs.

At 6:30am I think a wild turkey started calling and Berry and I woke up a bit alarmed at the strange noise. I was ready to move on so packed up the tent and backpack. I gave Berry some more food and I headed down to the river and the spot I had swam.


my clothes were dry so I put them back on and I chugged all the water I had left and pumped some more.


I filled two bottles and drank some more then hit the trail. The trail was really short lived though and after a few minutes I was walking my way through the park and then crossing a really cool bridge.



The old red bridge that I assume the road gets it’s name from. There are no longer any cars on it but it looks like people and horses use it.

Saturday morning was very similar to Friday at first. We walked some and ran some and my grumpyness from the night before went away pretty quick. I hit my stride and felt good. We had trials off and on and followed the water.


We hit some really nice trail and I forgot about the river and as we went under 435 I realized we had gotten away from the water and had to follow some train tracks and stuff for a bit to get back to it. As we got back to it the going got way to good.


The deer trails we had been following turned into bulldozed paved trails. I had mixed feelings. It was so easy and I had a feeling these trails would eventually be awesome but I was no longer really roughing it in the woods. We easily made good time on this trail and as I guessed it took us right to where I turned off the blue river and instead followed indian creek.


On our runs/bike rides we often follow the trial by our house down to this bridge but the trail had always ended there. It was exciting to see that the trial would soon go a lot farther.


I left the blue, went under the railroad bridge and knew I was about to leave the woods. I decided it was time for one last break and took off my pack and got out my hike over celebration beer.


I sat down and really enjoyed my warm shaken up Coors original.


Berry got a drink of his own.


Once it was gone we left the bridge and walked home  IMG_3448

I followed the trail as far as I could before cutting into the neighborhood. We got home right at 9am and scared Heath when I knocked on the back door.Pumpkin gave me a missed you hug in spite of my filthiness.

Shortly later I found a tick then got in the tub to soak and discovered I was covered in them. In fact I had tiny seed ticks all over me. I think right before bed I must have gotten into them and that is what I felt crawling all over my legs and keeping me up.

It was a great hike, lots of fun and saw a lot of interesting things and had a good workout. If/when I do it again I would probably leave Berry at home or tie him up 1/2 mile away at bedtime or when pumping water. I’d also try fillowing the river on different sides to see if it was better or worse.

(the rest of the weekend in another post, coming soon)







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