Short stories told by our ambassadors. Each week a different prompt!
Grab some coffee - Grab a seat
What is the most important thing you have forgotten to bring with you on a trip?
If there's one thing in life that I can outshine anyone in, outdoors or not, it's forgetting fairly necessary equipment for whatever I'm doing. There was one solo backpacking trip that stands out when it comes to forgetting necessary items on trips, and that is the time that I forgot my hiking boots in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Any rational person would, once realizing that the sandals on their feet are the only footwear they remembered, turn back and find some decent footwear for the snowy, icy, boulder and scree filled terrain that I was setting out on. I am not a rational person. I had just driven six hours for this and only had enough money on me to get back after. I decided that the sandals would suffice, and headed out on my own for the five day trek. After a mixture of doubling up my socks, going without socks, and cursing to myself while walking barefoot, I managed to have a fantastic trip. I would like to say that I learned a lesson here, but my preparation for trips since then tells me that I haven't. I believe in forgetting equipment. I think that's when your outdoor creativity shines and your winging-it skills improve dramatically. -Morgan
The red match head disintegrated every time I struck it against the box's striker. And with each failed attempt to light the match, my anxiety grew. It was my first trip leading participants in the backcountry and my co-counselor and I had forgotten to pack a lighter. All our matches were completely soaked and we had no other means of lighting a fire to cook dinner for our group of tired and hungry paddlers. Eventually the problem was resolved, the fire was lit, and dinner was served, but I learned a valuable lesson that evening: always build redundancy into your gear checklist, so if something fails once, you have a backup plan. -Michael
This all happened this past winter in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We parked in the Cog railway lot, walked the quarter mile to the trail head, and began our ascent of Mt. Clay via Jewell Trail. As soon as we got on the trail there was a river crossing. Normally I take my time and figure out a safe path to cross, but this time I didn’t. I was hiking with a couple people for the first time, and I thought I'd be smooth and show off how quickly I could rock hop to the other side. Wrong!! Splash!! I went straight into the freezing cold water soaking my shoes and socks and looking like a rookie in the process… That was the last time I forgot to pack extra socks and shoes in the car for a day trip. -Erick
Any sea kayaker will tell you the importance of having a spray skirt. Any sea kayaker will also tell you that a spray skirt is a crucial piece of gear on a 30 day trip on Lake Superior. We were camped at a large group site the night before starting our trip, and in the morning I came to the unfortunate realization that we were missing a spray skirt. This discovery was made worse by the reality that our van had dropped us off and left, and that the nearest town was 60 miles away. I decided to walk around the campsite and see if there was any other kayaking group that would be willing to sell me a spare spray skirt. Since it was only 5:30 in the morning there were few people up and about, but after a bit of wondering, I found an RV that was trailing a couple kayaks. I explained to the elderly couple seated out front that I was with a YMCA group, and that myself and my participants were heading out on a month long trip. While sympathetic, they could not split with their spray skirts as they too were spending the next week paddling. Dejected I headed back to my campsite to inform my still sleeping participants the nature of our dilemma. Before I made it back however, the elderly couple flagged me down and offered to drive me the 60 miles into town to buy a new spray skirt. The crisis was averted, my participants got to sleep in, and Roger and Ginger will forever be a crucial part of our trip's success. -Lloyd