If you get 24 hours to go backpacking
(Derived from the book, “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”)
If you get 24 hours to go backpacking, chances are Dan will suggest somewhere wild and remote.
If you’re going somewhere wild and remote, you’ll ask to please avoid excessive, steep bushwhacking.
When you make this request, Dan will nod, assuring you he knows a great place. “No other human has ever set foot there,” he’ll say. (Which, retrospectively, could have been a clue).
If you go to this place where no human has ever set foot, chances are Dan won’t remember all the actual excessive steep bushwhacking this hike entails (even though he comes here each spring. “Never seemed so bad,” he’ll admit while your torn-up legs go wobbly from fording precipitously downhill through wild rose bushes).
Because your torn-up legs have gone wobbly, you’ll request numerous rest breaks. And on one of these breaks (maybe because this is a place “no human has ever set foot”), a curious vulture will circle your reposed bodies repeatedly. “Still breathing,” you’ll call out, waving an arm in illustration before the bald-headed bird retreats.
If you’ve had a rest, chances are when you’re back picking your way through the bitingly scrubby brush, Dan will turn around and whisper, “You hear that? It’s the thrush singing!” and you’ll be forced, grudgingly, to prioritize awe for the glassy notes of the hermit thrush over grumpiness for the state of your legs.
(Chances are, if you leave home for one night, just one 24 hour period, you will find a love note from your daughter tucked in your pack)
Dan code name: DOD (dear old dad).
If the hermit thrush sings near by, chances are a grouse will be stationed not far from your sleeping bag, rising with loudly flapping intensity, at first morning light. (As well as swallows, tanagers, warblers, ravens, Clark’s nutcrackers, jays and black-headed grosbeaks).
If the grouse and friends are close by, chances are you will feel comfortable and accompanied while Dan goes out on a surprisingly long early morning foray for water.
If Dan goes out on an early morning foray for water, chances are he’ll find a few elk antlers, which he’ll leave at the spot where he’s found a few other antlers over the years.
Because this place is so wild and remote, you’ll see numerous bear tracks, the uncommon fairy slipper orchid and shade-loving pippsissewa. And even though the hike out is pantingly uphill, chances are you’ll feel lucky to have gone on a 24-hour backpacking trip with Dan.
Fairy slipper orchid
Approaching the car, Dan will grab your hand and say, “Thanks for sticking with me.” And you’ll squeeze that hand, smile and say, “Next time we’re gonna vet our spot a little more thoroughly.” And he’ll say, “You wanna kick my ass now or later?”
And later, home, showered and reunited with the kids, you find your thighs burning as you walk down the stairs. And chances are, if you find your thighs burning as you walk down the stairs, you’ll smile, remembering only the joy of spending 24 hours in a wild and remote place with Dan.