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It Doesn't Take Much

by Mark Cooper

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The night before our trip I found out that two sick kids and one bum knee were going to keep my two hiking buddies at home for the weekend. I had planned this trip for weeks now, an easy overnight on the 10-mile Bee Island loop in Myakka River State Park. The weatherman forecasted beautiful days and crisp nights and all my gear was carefully selected and waiting to be packed in my Kelty. I wasnít going to give up on the trip, so I figured Iíd be going solo.

Thatís when my little sister, Molly, called. She had heard my hiking partners were falling like flies and said that she would gladly take their places. She was a little concerned that she might crimp my backpacking style, but I assured her that there was no such thing. The last time we had been camping together was with the whole family about 15 years ago and this would be a great chance to catch up on our lives and even better, I had a last minute hiking partner.

Then it got interesting. Her gear list included her husbandís hunting knife, and a flashlight. Granted this is Florida so the winter gear list isnít too long, but hers clearly needed a little work. We could share my stove, water purifier, first aid kit and cookware, and she could use my daypack. Although I planned to sleep under the stars, if it did rain, I was thankful that the salesman at the outdoor shop encouraged me to buy the two-man tent rather than the solo I had been eyeing. That left just her sleeping system and a few odds and ends.

Before hitting the trail we headed to Americaís budget-outfitter, Wal-Mart, to round out her gear list. Less than twenty dollars and 8 pounds later she had a 40-degree bag (with a little built-in pillow), a lightweight sleeping pad, a camp mug, mac ní cheese, granola bars and crackers. We were set!

We had a great hike into camp. The sunshine, the breeze, the armadillos, raccoons, gopher turtles and gators all reminded us why we were out here. Although my external-frame pack was loaded to the hilt with the multiple sleeping bags and pads, the ground was level and the trail was well established so my knees didnít complain. At camp, we had a great time talking, eating camp food, drinking hot chocolate and playing gin rummy. The next dayís hike was just as pleasant and the pictures turned out great.

It doesnít take much to get out there.

About the Author

Mark Cooper a Finance Manager and avid weekend hiker lives in Central Florida with his wife Sheila.


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