Front Country vs Back Country

There are moments on the trail when you suddenly realize that you’re a long way from home.  You find yourself doing things on a regular basis that you’d never do at home in the “front country”.

A river I did not fall into.

A river I did not fall into: Mono Meadow

Front Country: Go to bed at 11 on a good night, 10 at the earliest.

Back Country: Go to bed at 8 o’clock on a regular basis, 10 at the latest

We actually made a rule that you couldn’t go to bed before 8.  Well, to be clear, you were allowed to start getting into bed, at 7:30, but no laying down until 8.


Front Country: Buy items at Bed Bath and Beyond to use in your kitchen

Back Country: Use a dirty sock as a potholder

Hey, if I had a clean sock I would have used that instead, but you have to make do with what you’ve got.

Another river I didn't fall into: The Tuolumne

Another river I didn’t fall into: The Tuolumne

Front Country: Clean your utensils in a sink with soap

Back Country: Clean your knife by licking it and rubbing it in dirt

There are many other hygiene related I-would-never-do-this-in-the-front-country moments, but this habit was particularly memorable.


Front Country: Eat food out of the refrigerator or pantry

Back Country: Eat a bag of nuts you found hanging in a tree

In all honesty I didn’t actually do this. I mean really people.  But Rich did.  We were always hungry, our pants were literally falling off.  He found a bag of nuts hanging in a tree near our camp that we assumed was left there by a previous hiker who was trying to keep it away from wildlife.  He ate them.  Did I mention that we were hungry?

This is hiker's porn

This is hiker’s porn

Front Country: An orange is a good healthy snack

Back Country: A Snickers bar is  a good healthy snack

Read the labels. A Snickers bar has essentially the same nutritional components as a Power Bar, but it actually tastes good and it costs less.

Yet another river I didn't fall into, if only they could've all been that way.

Yet another river I didn’t fall into, if only they could’ve all been that way.

Front Country: Stub you toe on the way out of the bathroom in the morning    

Back Country: Fall into a river on the way back from the bathroom in the morning

Yes, this happened.

Still groggy from a great night’s sleep in the open air I climbed out of my sleeping bag in our camp at Pocket Meadow, fumbled with my glasses and hobbled away from camp with my stiff muscles to find a nice bathroom.   After giving back to the earth, I headed back to camp and decided to walk by the river.  There were some gorgeous wildflowers there that I wanted to see one more time before we hit the trail.  Then, suddenly, I was sitting in a river, soaked from my belly button down.  I’d noted earlier that the foot high riverbank was a bit soft and undependable, but it disappeared from under me before I knew what was happening.  Rich and Karen got a good chuckle when I dripped back into camp.  And when we headed out that day there were a pair of camp shoes, a Smart Wool base layer and a long sleeve shirt draped over the back of my pack, drying.

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