So, to prepare for carrying a loaded pack, I did an overnight backcountry trip into the Shenandoah National Park with my delightfully enthusiastic mother. Our foresight was so great, our Boy Scout motto so upheld, that we managed to get to the start of the trail at 7:30pm. Two hours of hiking later - straight through the onset of dusk - we set up camp in some hellish corner of the woods and proceeded to the obvious: steak and wine dinner. (Seriously, guys, who goes camping without a good ribeye?)
I promise, we only nearly lit the forest on fire twice, and the ground was wet, anyway.
Other noteworthy bits and pieces of this little trip include the fact that my mother thought it was a great idea to buy “cheese and pepperoni rolls” to eat the next day, which turned out to be akin to two slices of pepperoni pizza stacked on top of each other and then mashed into a sad, angry pile of grease and regret. They might be delicious if you bake them for a bit first, who is to say; all I can tell you is that for a nice, on-the-trail snack, you would be better off eating an ice cream cone of lard. Oh, and there’s something uniquely alarming about waking up to several spiders plastered against the mesh of tent above your face, with nothing but a thin sheet of fiber between you and their spidery bellies.
Tips picked up: trail mix will never actually be eaten; you must boil water for at least one minute so as not to collect a slew of exciting bacteria; make sure the gas can does not have a leak; learn to love bugs as your brothers.