In the early evening, after turning in the for the night, we could hear some rustling in the woods. A small trail ran near our tent to get to other campsites. I heard what I think was a bear walk by — the snorts from their nose and the faint sound of their paws on the ground coupled with hearing another camper yell “get out of here bear” several minutes later confirmed it. Other than that we had an uneventful night in the tent.
The next morning we woke up early as it was our last day and we couldn’t wait to get to hot showers and wonderful food. We chatted briefly with some other backpackers who mentioned they had seen a mama grizzly and some cubs not far down the mountain. As we headed out we spotted them as well, though they were far enough away that they didn’t show up in our pictures very well. We were thankful for the distance as a mama grizzly with cubs is something you want to stay far away from.
Setting off we had the reverse of our first day ahead of us. About halfway through was a stop at the Flattop campsite. We left around 7 AM and rolled into Flattop for a breakfast snack around 9 AM. The backpackers in the food area of Flattop were sleepy looking and were surprised that we had already covered ~6 miles in such a short time. They asked us if we were running, but we laughed and said we were on a mission to get hot showers and eat delicious food.
With our bellies full and our water topped off, we continued down the trail.
It wasn’t long before we hit the bridge and we took a short break. Close to the end of the trail, we continued on and soon hit the trailhead where my truck was parked. We hung out at the trailhead for a short bit enjoying a celebratory drink mix and snack. After that, we headed to the KOA.
At the KOA we checked into the cabin we had reserved. No tent tonight! We then took turns showering as we only had one soap (keeping it light on the trail!). While Logan was showering I lay on the mattress and thought back through the trip. Finishing a backpacking trip is always bittersweet for me — I am happy to be clean and comfortable, but I miss being on the trail. I miss the simplicity of trail life: hike, eat, drink, sleep. No phone, no internet, no news, no politics. Dark, star-strewn skies. Physically challenging days followed by amazing sleep. Backpacking is something I love and something I don’t want to end. However, I also love my family. I want to see my wife again. I want to spend time with my little girl. I want to see my puppies and laugh and play with them. Overall, what can I complain about? I just had a blast backpacking and I have an amazing life to return to filled with wonderful people who I love and who love me. As bittersweet as the moment is, I am thankful for what I have and acknowledge that I have it better than many others in this world.
After our showers, we headed out for burgers and ice cream. While we were eating we laughed and talked about our trip — remembering all the fun moments and challenging moments alike. This backpacking trip was a success. A trip to remember for years to come.