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Hiking Muddies

This past weekend began with two women’s-only groups, the first of many parts of a season-long offering to our friends at the Hiking Buddies (reach out to them to learn more). Thanks to life and mechanized things whittling down our numbers, the two groups, ultimately consisting of five participants, became one. Leading were Redline Guides Arlette Laan and Debra McCown. The destination: Perkins Notch and the Wild River Wilderness. We will say, the weather wasn’t great and heading into a wilderness site as they did made it very real, and as a result, very satisfying. Hat’s off to all for doing it! What follows is a summary written by Debra followed by photos from both guides (and a guest).

It was wicked muddy…

It was muddy. Some would even say ‘wicked muddy.’ But we had a blast! This weekend’s rainy adventure was the first of this summer’s Hiking Buddies Intro to Backpacking trips, and it was a women’s-only group.
Initially, the plan was for two separate groups, each with four members and one guide, going to different locations. But with some last-minute registration changes and one person dropping out due to a car breakdown on the way, we wound up with a total of five guests — so we decided to combine them into one group.
Arlette (the other guide) and I decided to take them on the route that she’d initially chosen for her group: Bog Brook Trail to Perkins Notch Tentsite in the Wild River Wilderness.
If you think the name ‘Bog Brook’ gives a hint about the conditions on a rainy June weekend, you’d be right. A lot of the trail was bog. And a lot of it was brook. More of the trail was deep mud than not, and there were so many significant stream crossings, we lost count.
But everyone showed up with a great positive attitude, and once we checked everyone’s gear at basecamp (and showed them the contents of our packs), we headed out Saturday into a misting rain!
We hiked about four miles through varying degrees of rain through a lush, boggy green forest and set up our tents on a hilltop that had plenty of good flat spots and a well-established fire ring.
Then, everyone had the opportunity to throw a ball attached to a long cord over a high tree branch as we showed them how to create a bear hang, which is a great way to store food away from sleeping areas — and away from critters — in the backcountry.
Arlette set up a tarp over the cooking area beside the fire pit, where we all made dinner on our camp stoves, shared stories, and answered questions about camping and gear. The rain made a campfire impractical, but that was ok because everyone was tired from the hike, and when it got dark, we went to our tents to sleep.
In the morning, I led the early risers on a search for moose (unsuccessful, but fun!) through the morning mist and muck at a nearby pond, and then to a stream to filter water for the group. Despite the lack of actual moose, there was ample moose poop throughout the area around our tentsite — and we speculated on whether the moose might’ve visited our camp and left some of it for us while we were sleeping.
Throughout the forest, there were lady slippers in bloom, really cool flowers that adorn the start of summer.
Once the rest of the group was up and awake, around 7:00, we made breakfast on our camp stoves and then packed up our tents in the rain. There was a fair amount of discussion about things like tents and camp food — which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t.
By the time we departed camp, it was pouring! But everyone was smiling and still having fun. If our guests hoped to be immersed (and I do mean immersed) in an authentic backpacking experience, they definitely got what they were looking for!
Because of the rain, the streams were a bit higher on Sunday, and Arlette and I got in the river to assist and ensure that each guest crossed safely. We really saw our guests grow in their river-crossing skills and confidence as they stepped out of their comfort zone! Near the end of our hike, we opted to skip the biggest river crossing at Bog Brook and instead took a dirt-road trail to return to the parking area, bypassing a stream that undoubtedly would’ve been deeper and faster than it was when we waded it on Saturday.
After a quick stop at basecamp to change into dry clothes, our guests headed home, some hinting at future hiking and backpacking plans.
We had such a blast hiking with these ladies this weekend, and I think it’s fair to officially call the first Hiking Buddies Intro to Backpacking trip a success! —Debra


Great work one and all! Super job, Arlette and Debra, helping GOOD hiking buddies become GREAT ones!

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