by Lidia Grande-Ruiz
This past week for spring break, I participated in the ‘Forests for All’ backpacking trip with the national parks, hosted by center activities. The trip consisted of two days and one night of backpacking the Redwood National & State Park with the rangers to visit the coastal bluffs.
This was a unique and memorable opportunity to go backpacking with national and state park rangers. Not only did they share their expertise in the area and teach us basic backpacking skills and how to use equipment, I got to see another side of myself I didn’t know existed.
On Monday, March 13th, we had a pre-trip meeting with the guides and the rangers to explain the full details of the trip. We were going to take the Miner’s Ridge Trail to the coast campground, hiking about 4.5 miles per day and carrying an average 20 lb backpack.
I was concerned about my medication, since I have a history of twisting both ankles. I need my medicine with me in case I need it administered to control any internal bleeding. After talking with my doctors, center activities and the rangers, I was okay to go.
My boyfriend let me borrow his backpack, first aid kit, anything he thought I was going to need. We went grocery shopping for any food he thought would come in handy.
Early Thursday morning, we met up, gathered everyone up in the vans and we headed out. Once we arrived at the park, we were greeted by the rangers. They allowed us to rent stuff like trekking poles, rain cover for our backpacks, etc. They gave us the low down for the agenda for the day ahead. Once we got everything, we hit the trail.
Walking through the woods brought me a blanket of comfort. I mostly stayed behind, taking my time, making sure I didn’t twist my ankle. The forest was a sight to take in.
I am from the city, and on top of that I don’t have a license or my own car, so backpacking is not often a leisure activity I can explore. I often hear my boyfriend talking about his adventures and it has always piqued my curiosity. When center activities sent out the email and said it was free for students, I jumped in and I don’t regret it not one bit.
I have gone camping before so I knew it was going to be cold. I brought my warmest clothes, layered up for the night and I slept like a baby. Being by the beach at sunset was breathtaking. We met people from all walks of life at the campsite. We even saw a golden eagle and a gray fox.
Hearing our critter neighbors through the woods was a nice reminder to me that this is their home as well, just as much as it is ours. Everytime I go outside and wrap myself in blankets of the natural world, it fuels me up with the light that I search for in dark times. Being out there with no service… it’s like the outside world did not exist. My mental health was struggling just overthinking about the future, so being out there made me feel like nothing else matters.
Will I ever do it again? Absolutely! After coming back to Humboldt, I haven’t stopped talking about it and remembering it. I cannot wait to take on backpacking, not just by myself but with everyone I care about and love. It’s not just a memory, it’s another adventure that’s calling for me.