Into The Woods! Deer Lake & Sol Duc Hot Springs

I did it! Six months pregnant, and just back from a weekend backpacking trip in the Olympic National Forest!

I know a lot of awesome “Northwest Action Figure” type of gals… and I know a lot of others (including me!) who “like to do stuff outside” but don’t exactly come with the same accessories kit. Think sunglasses and comfy running shoes instead of  kayaks, compressible down sleeping bags, and season passes to national parks.

Tina —the most actiony of my action-figure ladies— decided to take the helm and organize some good summer fun for both types of ladies. The result was an amazing all-girls hiking weekend, packed with beautiful views and an optional day-hike for the more advanced, but easy enough enough for dead-on beginners and people like me, who haven’t backpacked since high-school… and are pregnant. And it ended with some recuperation time in the Hot Springs!

…and yes, before going, I made sure the group was all clear with my limitations and weight-lifting restrictions, warned them of my sure-to-be-slow pace, and all that jazz. I also checked with my midwife (“As long as you feel up for it”), and got the husband’s blessing (“Be careful, drink water, don’t push it, and take rests!”), and it couldn’t have worked out better.

The girls were all so incredible; all I had to carry was a pack with my own water, food, snacks for the hike, a camera, trekking poles for balance, and my trowel/toilet-paper kit. Everything else was meted out to the other girls’ packs… and there was a lot of everything else!

Tina also happens to be married to an outdoor gear sales rep and everyone made absolutely sure I had every possible inflatable, foldable, compressible comfort and convenience. In addition to all their own gear, the 6 other ladies carried it all: cushy-thick sleeping pad, down sleeping bag, two full-size pillows, a 2-liter water reservoir, an inflatable sit-pad, and shared tent and kitchen set. When did roughing it get so comfy?

Of course, for all that, the pack was a little heavy, the trail was a little steep, and sleeping on the ground —no matter the cushiest pad— is never going to be the best night’s sleep. And yes, I did push it a tiny bit…

But you know what? It was all worth it, and I still feel amazing afterward.

And I really needed something out of what passes for my usual routine to make me feel a bit of amazing. Last week was a little rough for me — I’ve been feeling useless for having no job and frustrated for having no plays or concerts or other forthcoming artistic outlets. And most damning to admit, for the first time I realized I was even getting a teensy bit resentful of the baby for making it hard (or impossible) to do things I want or need to do. And I hate that.

Ever since we started planning for this trip, I’ve been looking forward to the little mountain air and some good ol’ bodily fatigue to clear out the cranky cobwebs in my psyche.

So I worked hard, I drank gallons of water, I sweat almost as much, and I was happily, disgustingly dirty and smelly the entire time. I eschewed make-up and hair combs, remembered the best outdoor-peeing techniques, and ate out of foil and baggies for two days. I spent an afternoon all alone alongside an alpine lake, writing, reading, dipping my feet in the water, singing to myself and puttering around the campsite. I saw deer and fawns 20 paces away and jumping fish and waterfalls.

Best of all, I had a weekend with some of my favorite girls — singing on the trail, playing silly games, sporting a wax mustache, watching them drink wine and flirt with the handsome Park Ranger Mark, and soaking our dusty, weary bodies in the hot springs at the end (and no, Husband, I did not boil the baby!).

And I think it all did the trick — apart from the day-after sore calves and a set of shoulders in serious need of a back rub, that is. But truly, other than those little things, I feel good. Deep inside good, and proud of myself for making it through.

So if you’re listening in there, Baby, I think we’re gonna be ok. Useless? Impossible? Pff. Trust me, kid… if I can climb a mountain now, anything just might be possible.

Useless? I'll show you Useless!


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