Blog contribution by Chicas Latinas de Sacramento Board Member and Programs & Event Chair, Susana Becerra:
I never backpacked before, but was always interested in it. I had talked to my friends about backpacking and always wanted to organize an outing, but to be honest I didn’t know where to start. The gear alone felt intimidating.
Chicas Latinas de Sacramento partnered with Latino Outdoors earlier this year. Together we began hosting day-hikes and other outdoor adventures for our Chicas Latinas members, and it was only a matter of time before a backpacking trip was in the works. The plan, Latino Outdoors would provide all the education, gear, and the guide required for a backpacking trip — for free!! All we (I) had to do was show up. How much easier could that be?!
Thanks to the partnership of Chicas Latinas and Latino Outdoors, in November I went on my very first backpacking trip! Since my return, a few people have asked me what the highlights of my trip were. My response is hard to put into words because the entire experience was a highlight. Regardless, here are my thoughts about my first backpacking trip…
We set out on a cool sunny Saturday to Henry Coe State Park about 2.5 hours from Sacramento. Three Chicas Latinas and our Latino Outdoor guide chatted throughout the car ride. We chatted during our hikes, we chatted throughout the night, we chatted chatted chatted. You get the idea. The point being is backpacking proved to be a way to connect to my fellow comrades. When else are you going to get 24 hours of human connectedness without the interruptions of cell phones, obligations, and responsibilities? When else do you take the time to share stories and laugh until food comes out of your mouth (yes, this happened)? When else do you sit in the dark and play games and I’m not talking video games on our cells/ipads/game consoles? We went in to this adventure as strangers and came out friends with a mutual respect for each other for what we had accomplished together, as a team.
I have to admit that one of the reasons I enjoyed backpacking so much is that social conventions are thrown out the window. So you haven’t showered or brushed your teeth for a while? No problem! Growing up my dad would frequently call me “cochina” when I licked my fingers and he insisted I use a napkin. When backpacking, licking your fingers is highly encouraged, heck, wipe your mouth on your sleeve for all we care. It’s a way to produce less garbage because with Leave No Trace principals it means everything you use/bring you have to take back with you. When carrying a heavy load with minimal space every little bit counts. Literally licking your bowl and utensils clean is applauded. And you know you are with Latinos when a can of jalapeños en vinagre is brought out to accompany a meal, but what do you do with the left over vinegar? Drink it of course. What do you do with the water left over after boiling our dinner noodles? You guessed it, drink it! These acts are cheered and seen as taking one for the team. It almost became a game to see how far we would go to Leave No Trace. It was a much welcomed change of pace to not have to be prim and proper for an entire weekend.
You may be thinking that you have to be really strong to go backpacking. Well, sort of, but not really. See, the strongest part of a woman’s body is in her legs and hip area and lo and behold that is where the backpack sits. The strap that goes across the hip/waist area shifts the weight from your back to your hips/legs, which is also why you have to use a backpack that fits your body/size. We were carrying quite the load and we all agreed we felt like “burros” but it’s all part of the fun and challenging experience. We take many things for granted such as walking and this was a reminder to appreciate the ease in which I walk. With a heavy load I was unsteady and required concentration to accomplish what normally I can do with ease. I’ve gone hiking before, but not with a heavy pack. Our team of Chicas Latinas backpackers trekked fairly fast considering we were going uphill and carrying a heavy load. Perhaps it was because subconsciously we were trying to get out of the rain on day two. The rain only added to us feeling absolutely awesome at the end of our journey. A feeling of “we did it! And in the rain!” Excuse the language, but there is no other way to describe it other than saying I FELT LIKE A BADASS! I am woman, hear me roar.
Last but not least I’d like to highlight the nature aspect of backpacking. We saw various wild life animals such as deer, newts, wood peckers, and a bald eagle. We would stop along our hike to appreciate the various foliage and try to translate the word from how our parents taught us in Spanish to the word in English leading to conversations about colloquialisms from one town to the next within even the same country. Basil in Spanish is Albahaca by the way…I learn something new every day.
As I went about my regular work week following our trip, I was reminded of my adventurous weekend every time I got up from a sitting position. My leg muscles were sore, but I couldn’t help but smile as I inched along the first few steps until my tight muscles loosen and I was able to walk again. I live in a two story home and when going down the stairs I literally said “ow ow ow” with every step I went down, while laughing at how funny I must look. This is not to discourage anyone from backpacking, on the contrary it’s to encourage you to try something that challenges your body just enough to push it outside its comfort zone because that is how we grow and evolve…to push outside our comfort zones. And if I can do it, you can too.
Thank you Sol, Adriana, and Eduardo for such a memorable experience.
Please consider joining us, Chicas Latinas de Sacramento, as we continue to offer opportunities in partnership with Latino Outdoors. We especially like having newbies and we are happy to ease any concerns you may have and answer any questions.
Fleet Feet Free Holiday Classic 5k Run/Walk Sunday, December 13, 2015
Join Fleet Feet Sports of Sacramento for the 9th annual Holiday Classic Fun Run. The race is FREE. The race began as a lighthearted reason to gather for a run during the holiday season and has developed into a toy drive for the Salvation Army. This year the Salvation Army can use the support of the running community and the community at large in these tough economic times. Our goal is to fill a Salvation Army truck with your donations. For more details visit Team Chicas meet up pagehttp://www.meetup.com/ChicasLatinas/events/226677376/
Winter Challenge Dec. 16 th-March 9th
Add up the miles!! Accumulate 50 miles training with Chicas and earn a nifty Team Chicas Sports bag. Challenge starts Dec. 16th. We meet at 6pm in front Mc Kindley Library every Wednesday.