It was 4am on Monday morning. I barely got any sleep from the excitement of the backpacking expedition my friend Jayce and I had planned three weeks earlier. We stayed up later than we should the night before we left because of the double and triple checking we did on our bags. We had to make sure every last bit of equipment worked and was there, since it wasn’t going to be a regular park “hiking” trails that we were following. In fact it was going to be complete wilderness with only our skills to get us through vast Black Hills Forest. The long drive from Omaha to Rapid City had taken its toll on our minds and bodies. Since the beginning of the drive to the end of it when we parked the car at the trail head, waiting in the car felt like waiting in line for the biggest and fastest roller coaster at an amusement park. As soon as we got out of the car our emotions of getting the trip started tried to take over our common sense but the toll of the car ride would soon bring us back to earth. We both lifted our backpacks and they felt glued to the ground and we realized we were not going anywhere that night without rest. We made camp that night a short 2 miles away from our car near the last stop of fresh water or “potable water” as the signs all around us said.
Thoughts of tomorrow’s hike, nature, and dangers eventually drifted me away into a deep slumber. Before I knew it Syd a beautiful fawn colored Australian Kelpie was moving around waking me and Jayce up for the start of the day. I would have never guessed what was ahead in the beautiful and wild forest of the Black Hills. I would learn very soon that the calm forest is very deceiving and dangerous if you do not respect it and its inhabitants. We made breakfast that morning. We would soon fill up our last bottles of water and hydration packs and set off into the dark forest.
Jayce asked, “Are you ready to go?” I replied “Yea just making sure we have everything we need.” I never used to be...
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