Summer Edition: My Favorite Gear When Backpacking and Camping / by Joelle Friend

If you were to ask me what one of my favorite places to roam around in is, Mt. Rainier would be at the top of my list. Why? Growing up in Washington, when the clouds finally clear, it shows itself so majestically. It towers over Western Washington and makes itself known. It has a powerful presence to it. Mt. Rainier is one of those places that I started going to as a young girl. My best friend's mom would take us up every summer and show us its beauty. We would howl out the window like wolves, feeling the air on our face as we drove through dense green forest up the mountain. Our summers were filled with exploring and hiking, playing on rocks, and basking in the sun. It became tradition to return back and till this day I try to make it up there every summer. I am happy to show you guys a little photo journal of how beautiful it is there this time of year, and to go into detail about what gear I use from Backcountry.com when I hike and backpack! I am stoked to show you guys my favorite place to get geared up and I LOVE getting help from the Gearheads because they are so knowledgable! 

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I packed my 46 lt Osprey Bag full of gear I needed for a one night backpacking trip. Short but sweet-- this is a perfect way to start backpacking. Plan a one nighter, not too long, and not too heavy of a backpack. It is good to start small. When I started backpacking I eased my way into it. I packed all the necessary equipment: my camera, extra batteries, mosquito repellent (THEY ARE SO BAD THIS TIME OF YEAR!), tent, dehydrated food, headlamp, extra pair of socks and underwear, leggings, fleece, rain jacket (always want to prepare), mug for coffee, instant coffee (that is a MUST), two Nalgene bottles, water filter, lightweight sleeping bag, sleeping pad, first aid kit, and MSR Windburner. Trust me when I say this, EVERYTHING adds up. You want to bring the bare necessities. Some things I would usually bring on a longer hike would for sure be hiking poles, an actual mosquito net, binoculars to look at wild life, and a GPS just in case I was backpacking somewhere I wasn't too aware of. I used to wear normal t-shirts, but those get all sweaty and gross-- so now I always wear something good for sweating, like this Patagonia shirt. Even active wear underwear are a lifesaver. Take my word for it. 

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As the sun started to set we made our way up to higher elevation and made it in time for blue hour to see Mt. Rainier in her full glory. I was blown away, we were the only ones up there. It started to get a lot darker and we soon pulled out our head lamps to guide our way to our camp spot, facing the mountain. 

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I started setting up camp and had a few snacks for a late dinner. I set up my tent and sleeping bag so when I was done making dinner I could just cozy up. It was pretty warm outside, so there was no need to rush. The stars came out, but the moon was so full that it was hard to sleep during the night. It was SO bright out. 

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Let's just say, due to the moon being so bright I could hardly sleep that night. I was tossing and turning, had a lot on my mind, but the pure peace of being outside and feeling closer to my surroundings made staying up not so bad. I was quite happy to be there. As Walt Whitman says, "Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” One of my favorite quotes, ha!

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As the sun slowly started to rise, I still was awake. I heard the birds chirping and bringing in the new day. Although it sucked to not be sleeping, it's a peaceful time to be awake. I got out of the tent and saw a little bit of color starting to show. I started to warm up some coffee and ate some breakfast, to be able to watch sunrise while I ate. The sunrise was incredible, and I felt full of energy even though I hardly slept. Goes to show how good nature is on the human spirit, well, I guess for mine. Tell me a story in the comments below of any fun summer camping experiences! I would love to hear them, OH and also your go to item while backpacking! 

MANY MANY thanks to David for taking these photos!

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