Saturday morning two friends and I hopped in the car and drove two hours to Bankhead National Forest to begin our mini backpacking excursion. We parked our car at the trailhead, put our packs on our backs, and headed out. Our plan for the first day was to hike an easy 7 miles. After fording a river, climbing past waterfalls, and hiking until the sun began to set, we realized our map very much underestimated our mileage and we actually hiked 10 miles before we reached camp.
We set up camp next to a small spring, started a fire, filtered some water, and began cooking our dinners. We were ravenous after hiking so much. After dinner, we settled down around the campfire and enjoyed being outside under the stars. When the fire went down, we tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags to rest before another day of hiking.
The next morning we woke up early and had some oatmeal before packing up our supplies. After camp was all cleaned up, we headed out for what we thought would be a 4 or 5 mile hike. After walking for at least that many miles, we realized we made a wrong turn and went down the wrong trail. And of course it was at that moment that it began to rain. So then began the real adventure, as we waded across the river searching for our trail, only to spend an hour bushwhacking our way through unkempt forest and wading back across the river when we decided that wasn't going to get us anywhere. We headed back the way we came from, and decided just to backtrack on the trail we took the previous day. By the time we got back to the trailhead, we had hiked 14 miles. We were wet and cold and hurt everywhere and all we could think about was what a huge, delicious meal we were going to consume.
And yet, even with the extra mileage and the rain and fording a river four times, it was such a fun trip. Not only is it a relief to just be out in nature, but hiking so much and pushing yourself to do what you didn't think you could do is so rewarding. And getting lost is not so bad when you're in such a beautiful place.