Excited, I headed out to the shed, having just decided to go camping on the ocean at Kalaloch for Valentine’s Day. I had just put my tent and backpack in there, after having them in the trunk and on the trail for the past 6 months; I figured they could use a break. Plus, they were beginning to make my trunk smell. Not a bad smell, just a musty, woodsy odor occasionally wafting up to the nostrils. I was excited to be heading out again, hoping to catch a sunset and sunrise on the Olympic Peninsula coast. With a bonfire at night, and an occasional break in the clouds showing off the night sky in all its splendor, my mind was far away from my feet as I reached the shed. I am not afraid to admit that I was slightly startled when I nearly walked into corner of the shed.
Being jostled back to reality, away from the secluded driftwood filled beach, I opened up the shed door. The creaking noise bothered me and I made a mental note to take care of it. I am always having to do these things to the shed, I suppose it is because it is indeed a just shed. I flipped the power code at my feet to “on” and pulled out the giant plastic tub that my bags call their home. I immediately knew something was wrong when, as I pulled the tub out, flakes of paper, cloth and plastic fell to the floor. The horror scene continued as my larger bag came into full view. The soft red and black cloth combo that had attracting me to her, I mean it, in first place looked like a styled pair of jeans that the young people wear today. All ripped and torn, the bag lay there, once full of life and now empty, looking like the losing nations flag after the war is over.
Dirty, cut, used and destroyed, I pulled the bag out of the bin and gasped in horror at what my eyes were looking upon. My first serious backpack, a gift from my parents on my 17th birthday was destroyed. The backpack that led me over ridges deep in the Yellowstone backcountry was out of commission for the final time. As I picked up all the pieces, I was washed over with memories the bag and I had. The night in the Nevada desert, stargazing with some friends when I rested my head on it and watched the glory of the Milky Way pass in front of me. I remembered the day in the Yellowstone where we watched bison fighting down a hillside, with a far off thunderstorm acting as special effects. The bag was now destroyed, with no more memories to be made. As I placed it in the garbage can, my eyes welled up a little. I had remembered when I first got the bag. Unwrapping my backpack, the possibility of having my license and a backpack opened up another world. The places I knew this bag would take me was such an exciting turn of events in my life, and soon, with this bag that went on hikes everywhere from China, Norway, Iceland, Morocco and Spain, to Grassy Lake, Mount Constance, Anderson Pass and the Hoh, this bag was there.
Thinking all of this, I reached for the lid of the garbage can. I lifted it halfway up and decided to leave the lid open, if just for a night. This bag needs to dream of the night sky. She needs to sleep under a beautiful cedar tree. The bag needs just one more night of the wild, because she deserves to have one last night being the best bag in the world.
I pushed the garbage can back to where it came from, and took a last look at my backpack. I can’t tell you why I did it, but when you have a bag like that; I had to tell my bag goodbye. I leaned in a little and with sadness in my heart told the bag “You were always there for me, always ready to hop on a trail and forget about the world. It was just you and me for almost 15 years and hiking without you won’t be the same. Thank you for letting me carry you.”