Last weekend I went on my first overnight backpack/camping trip since I was 17. The last time I had an adventure like this was with a group of people, my dad included, as a team building exercise. We hiked 5 miles into the HOH rainforest for two nights.
This time, it was just me and a friend. Alone. In the mountains. 6 miles in. Without the false safety of a parent.
In the rain.
We knew it was going to rain, but decided to go anyway. Looking back I regret nothing, but I’ll tell you that in the midst of this journey I was kicking myself for not listening to my gut when it told me to sit this one out.
I should have taken the broken bag strap as an omen, or perhaps my sleeping bag not fitting onto my bag was an indication this wasn’t meant to happen, but I ignored the voices and stepped out of my comfort zone.
Actually I leaped, rolled, and clawed out of my comfort zone.
Hiking in the rain doesn’t phase me. I grew up in Washington state and I’m used to rain. Sleeping in the rain however, with wet clothes, in the middle of no where, is another story. A story I’m going to share right now.
Never in my life have I begun a hike at 5:45 pm, but when you get lost in the REI garage sale sometimes things just happen. Knowing we only had to hike one way meant we had the option to start later because we were setting up camp instead of turning back around.
The thought of it getting dark still lurked over my head and kept a slight ounce of fear in my bones.
This hike was new to both my hiking partner and I, but here is what we knew: our camp destination was at Pratt Lake, 5.5 miles from the trail head. The highest elevation was 4100 ft, and when we pulled into the parking lot there were plenty of other cars. Seemed like no big deal.
The beginning of the hike was magical. We were like two gypsy souls dancing in a street parade. It wasn’t until nearly two hours into the hike that we discovered we had only made it three miles. The sky was getting dark, the rain was getting harder, and my bag was getting heavier.
My perception of time and distance was completely skewed thanks to the added weight of my bag.
This is when we decided to pick up the pace. My back ached, my coat was drenched, and my soul was scared. I don’t often feel scared of other people (we saw none for the first two hours) but I feel scared of being in the dark without proper camp set up, and of wild animals.
Around 8pm we saw our first fellow souls, two men hiking the opposite direction. It was rather late to be heading back towards the cars, but when we asked if they were heading out their response instilled a small panic in both of us: “yea we are going back, the weather is just too much right now.”
We both looked at each other realizing we had no form of light (rookie mistake) and no idea how much further we had to go. We contemplated if we should follow the guys, but in the time it took for us to think about it they would have been too far ahead.
Instead we made ourselves momentarily feel better by calling them wimps. It helped for a bit.
It took us another hour to finally catch a glimpse of the lake and in that hour we both experienced feelings of fear, regret, confusion, and discomfort. It was now after 9pm and we had only moments of daylight left. The rain was still beating down our backs so we decided to set up camp under a giant tree.
In the middle of the trail.
It took longer than I’d have liked to set up this tent, both of us struggling with numb fingers and exhaustion. I wanted to quit and crawl into the thing deflated, but thankfully my partner knocked some sense into me.
Tent up, clothes stripped (there is no shame in the woods at 10 pm when you’re soaked) and fear momentarily silenced we sunk into our sleeping bags and began to laugh. We had to be crazy to camp in this weather, and crazy we were. We weren’t the only crazies however, and around 10:30pm a group of hikers and a dog had to maneuver around our tent.
In the middle of the trail.
The next seven hours were filled with 45 minutes of sleep, but that’s just an educated guess. I felt something run by the side of our tent at one point, the landscape was rugged, we couldn’t get warm, and I couldn’t shake the thought of animals smelling our food. In an attempt to get warm we decided to crawl into one mummy bag and spoon.
Morning finally came bright and early at 5 am and we didn’t hesitate to pack up our things. We had initially planned to hike another 6 miles to another lake, but after our night we decided to call it quits and head back.
The morning view on the lake made the entire trip worth it. That and the check mark I can now add to the “bad ass” column of my bucket list.
The sun came out on our way back to the car, the birds were singing, I attempted to feed them, and I even found a quarter – things were good again.
The journey back to the car included many laughs, multiple conversations about the wussy men, a handful of fellow hikers in awe of our adventures, and a sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt before. I also experienced ungodly hunger because I barely ate a thing the entire trip.
It’s in these moments of exhaustion, fear, and doubt where we discover what we are truly made of. Sure, I would plan better next time, but I’m glad we took this spontaneous trip into the woods, and I guarantee we are both stronger because of it.
Until next time…
Q: What’s your idea of camping? Sorry, but driving your car to a camp ground with running water and a bathroom is called “glamping” in my book. Still fun, but not the same.
74 thoughts on “Pratt Lake Camping Trip”
What an adventure! Most of us would never have taken that first step onto the trail!
I’m already searching for the next!
How fantastically terrifying. That lake looks amazing!
I never camped but it’s on my bucket list.
It was gorgeous. 😍
I’ve done a hiking type of camping, and a campsite camping and I enjoy both for different reasons. The campsite we use offers all kinds of fun rentals like kayaks, bikes, and other options to help us explore!
OHHH that sounds like a blast!
Hahahha! Omg, Britt, I had a remarkably similar experience last year… Got lost on a 95 degree day when the bugs were so bad I had clothing covering everything but my eyes, had a 2 mile trek uphill mostly on sand and jagged rock with three days of gear and food, got to my campsite, got set up, massive thunderstorm rolled in, I was 5 miles from other humans (this was one of my solo adventures), ended up hiking back to my car and sleeping there the first night because I was not into sleeping in a tent during a lightning storm (are cars safer? haha). In the midst of it, it was awful and i was regretting it, but looking back on it, it was amazing and liberating and strengthening.
Solo!? You are amazing. What an adventure.
Haha well, I try almost every summer to camp alone and there’s a thunderstorm every time !
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
You are making me want to go camping SO badly. Sadly, I don’t think this pregnant belly is going to fit in a tent!
You could do it mama!!! 😂
You are such a badass haha I’ll go camping, but I usually like to be at a campground with civilization around me. It makes me feel a bit more protected… and I like showers and real bathrooms. Basically, I’m a fake outdoorsy kind of girl 😉 This story is terrifying and so awesome at the same time. Those lake shots are amazing though and totally worth it
It was one of the scarier hikes I’ve done, but always worth it. 😂 it was all in my head per usual.
Rachael @ Catch Me If You Can
Ok but what if you dont have all these beautiful trails and can only camp by driving to a camp site?! You are a serious bad ass in my book for doing all that. we camped in the rain with a leaky tent and that was pretty dang miserable. you are my camping hero!
Ahh leaky tent nooo!!
Rach @ This Italian Family
GIRL! Go you two! I think I would have turned back, ha! I love that you guys stuck it out and made it! And what awesome stories you have to tell. And now you’ll just be even better prepared for next time! 🙂
Exactly! We learn as we go. 😝
Yeah you definitely get a bad ass medal in my book. In fact, I’d give you two and a cookie. I won’t even go camping when public bathrooms and cots are available so you can forget about a tent on the ground. Shudder. More power to you though.
PS. I’m gonna need you to take my kid camping so she has that experience. 🙂
Deal! I’ll be her unrelated aunt in Washington. She and I will be the best of adventuring friends.
I am so proud of you for pushing through on this adventure. I always find that it is the things that are the worst while you are doing them that end up being your life highlights. Excited that you were able to make such an awesome one. 🙂
I channeled my inner Jessica, thinking of your overnight adventure races. 😝
How awesome- so proud of ya for sticking it out- it is crazy how dark the woods get- and quickly!!! Way to go!!
So dark. It was so quiet too.
Just don’t watch Blair Witch before u go!!! Haha! 🙂
Great account of your trip, I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve yet to camp anywhere but would love to give it a go. The scenery is amazing where you were and glad you weren’t gobbled up by a bear!
You and me both! I’m just pretending it was a squirrel that ran by my side.
We camped out on Mount Rainier before, on the Paradise trail and bathed in spring water up there. It was a blast!
That sounds magical!!
This sounds epic! I want to camp this summer, go on some trail runs and veg out. Setting up camp in the middle of a trail is also something I would do in a storm 🙂
I’m glad you understand the desperate nature of setting up right where we were hahah.
You are definitely an inspiration. Way to go. You are a bad ass–and you can quote me on that.
My worst camping story involves poor planning. We went camping and told each person to bring some food and beer (we’re not talking rough camping here–provincial park, no hiking….) Needless to say, to a person, we each brought hotdogs. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We are going on a commemorative style camping trip in August–we have vowed to plan better.
Hot dogs all day! Haaaaha!
Not just all day, but all day for at least three days…..
Badass indeed! Nicely done friend. I couldn’t have done it better myself. Well, maybe I could have but where’s the rugged fun in that?
Mistakes are how we grow. A few lapses in judgement and now you know more about what to do next time and much more about what you are capable of.
Exactly! Epitome of live and learn.
Great story and what an adventure. I love the decision to camp in the trail! You do what you gotta do and say yes to what’s right in front of you. My idea of camping is same 🙂 hike in with a pack and camp, enjoy the nature and beauty, and get up and do it again.
I’m glad you agree!
Kristy from Southern In Law
Um, talk about an AWESOME adventure! Girl, you have way more guts than me – I would have chickened out at the first sign of drizzle 😛
Josie @ Literature Mistress
Such a cool trip – I wish I could’ve been there!
For me camping is usually an activity reserved for festivals. Actually, the last time I went to one (roughly one year ago), there was a thunderstorm and they evacuated the area – only to send us back to our tents at 4 am when the weather was just starting to get crazy. That was a very wet and uncomfortable night – I tried out a shitty tent for the first time and of course it couldn’t stand the heavy rain…drip, drip, drip…
Festival camping sound so fun!
Josie @ Literature Mistress
It is, as long as it doesn’t rain. Seriously, thousands of people camping in a relatively small area is gross! The wet ground automatically turns into a mud field that requires wellies to get through – I’ve seen shoes that were abandoned by their owners because they got stuck in the mud and just slipped off the wearers’ feet!
kathy @ more coffee, less talky
i’m a total glamper; not even sorry to admit that either 🙂
Own it mama, you’re not alone!
You can totally add bad-bad-ass to your list! Wow. If I didn’t have a flashlight, I would be freaked. out. I have backpacked a few times and enjoyed it. My version of camping nowadays is a campground with at least a portapoo. No running water though.
I don’t know what I was thinking not bringing light. Total mistake!
An Unrefined Vegan
Color me HUGELY impressed! I am not worthy! You two faced and conquered challenges and fears (not to mention extreme discomfort) and came out laughing. Cupcakes all around! I’ve camped 2 times in my life, neither time was enjoyable, frankly. But both times the NATURE around me made it worth the poor sleep, undercooked food, lost contact lens, broken heart, and mosquito bites.
Broken heart!? Oh my, that sounds like a terrible camping trip. Thankfully the rain kept the skeeters away this time.
Yay glad you got out of your comfort zone and did this! I am going on my first overnight backpacking trip in July and I’m kinda nervous. I’ve car camped and hiked a lot, but backpacking is a whole new beast. No doubt my trip will be as strenuous, messy, and worthwhile as yours 🙂
Ahh how fun! You’ll love it.
Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! I am beyond impressed with your adventurous spirit, courage and just pure awesomeness! What an cool adventure! I am such a wuss and would’ve probably headed back with those guys. I think that’s so cool you didn’t though and you just set up camp. Your pictures are always absolutely breathtaking too!!!
It was liberating being wild. Hahaha.
You are seriously hardcore! I feel like that trip will be such a fun memory to tell people! If you can get through that camping trip with the crazy weather you can do anything 🙂
I’ve loved sharing it!
All I can think when I read this is FREEDOM. Going with the flow of fun and nature. GAH I want to be up in those mountains right now ❤
Freedom indeed! So wonderful.
Oh I miss camping. As I type, there are currently, roughly, 77 items in my Amazon shopping cart that are camping related. haha. Slowly, buy surely, I’m building up our camping supply and my Hus is IN FOR IT! He’s never really camped, and camping is roughing it in a tent! I just remember my mom packing SO much stuff…we had so many totes. She forgot nothing! I have a list made, and there is a lot of stuff to take, but for the most part, I feel like I could easily just pack a tent, sleeping bags, and some clif bars, percolator and coffee, and go! LOL
I like your style! Sometimes you just gotta GO!
Annie Emmy Evans
LOVE this! Especially the pictures. You’re so much more adventurous than me. Anytime someone suggests camping to me, I look at them like they’re crazy. I mean… we have indoor plumbing and electricity for a reason, people. 😉
Hahaha it’s ok, we just balance each other out.
Haha, glamping! Girl, this sounds like one awesome and crazy adventure! I’ve been camping twice and fortunately my Dad was with us so we had some help with putting up tents and cooking, haha 😉 !
Having help with a tent is so nice!
What a great post all around – the suspense, the humor, the reflection… and that hideous getup that you rocked. Brittany, you have such a way of drawing your readers in, thank you for sharing another one of your adventures. Inspiring and entertaining 🙂
What a kind comment, thank you for reading. 😄
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
Oh my gosh Britt, as I was reading this I was having flashbacks to my crazy hiking/camping adventures on Catalina Island. These are the types of experiences that are scary while you’re enduring it, but are awesome to tell the stories of afterwards! You definitely are a badass, and wow, it looks beautiful there!!
Mid hike we said to each other, “we have to have these adventures to look back on and say wasn’t that awesome, even when it’s scary in the midst of it!”
LOL, really, your tent right in the middle of the trail??? Too funny! – Kat
Oh you better believe it! The patience meter was over expired! 😂😂
So impressed! Bad Ass Badge earned fo sho! And you found a quarter… I mean, come on.
HEATHER I FOUND A QUARTER! In the middle of the forest, WHAT ARE THE ODDS!?!
I know! I still can’t get over it. I seriously told Todd about it. He knows about our “money on the ground thing.” 🙂
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