Last weekend, ten fearless girls (myself included) embarked on an 11-mile winter backpacking trip to the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Area that did indeed live up to its name.
We departed after class on Friday. Despite making a few snack stops, we made it to the trailhead by sunset. Rather than hiking the three miles to reach our first campground, we decided to camp out at the trailhead and wait for daylight to begin our adventure.
So, we set up some tents, made some gado-gado, and bundled up in our sleeping bags in an effort to stay warm for the night.
After some 14 hours of sleep, we awoke only to realize that we had forgotten water purification, and it was evident that we weren’t going anywhere without it. We drove back into the nearest town, purchased a bottle of iodine, stealthily filled about eight liters of water bottles from a nearby gas station, and headed back to the trailhead.
At this point it was nearing dusk, but we still had about three miles to reach our first campsite. However, we were all determined to get some hiking in. After getting creative with some face paint, we set off into the woods.
Three miles, four stream crossings, several inches of snow, and plenty of elevation gain later, we found a gorgeous camp site overlooking the wilderness area we had just hiked through. The wind instantly picked up and we layered up as quickly as possible. After some backcountry burritos and Cholula to warm us up, we cocooned into our tents until the sun came up the next day.
With the delayed start, we didn’t have enough time to complete the anticipated 11-mile loop. We hiked back the same route, piled into the van, and headed back to campus.
Curious about the weather conditions of the previous night, we checked the conditions of the nearest town. It had reached a low of 10 degrees Fahrenheit the night before, meaning we slept through a freezing cold night up in the mountains of between zero and five degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest camping most of us had ever experienced.
According to Ibby Febvre, one of the girls on the trip, everyone had a great time. “It was a blast being so whimsical and figuring out how to overcome obstacles on the spot with a great group of girls,” said Febvre.
Dana Cronin, Staff Writer