Over this past winter, I’ve tried to keep up with backpacking training more. I’ve had a bit of a slump since the worst allergies ever took residence in my sinuses around January, but I feel that once those are under control I’m going to be able to refocus on my conditioning. And my big trips won’t be until August, so there’s time to build up strength and endurance.

But this weekend is when the season really begins.

Sure, it’s just going to be car camping, but my husband and I will be driving out into the woods for the first time this year. We’ll be well beyond cell phone range, so I might go a little nuts if the Blackhawks are playing on Friday night and I won’t know what’s going on.

The plan is to check out the trailhead from which I’ll be departing in mid-August for my high-mileage solo hike. We will spend the night there, and maybe take a peek down the trail, weather permitting. And by weather permitting, I mean, if there isn’t deep snow obscuring the trail.

I’m excited to see the trailhead, but I’m also excited to formally begin our backpacking season. Okay, camping season. Backpacking season won’t really get into swing until June. Weather permitting…

Still, I’ve missed being out in the woods. I’ve missed the quiet and darkness of a night spent with only nylon between me and the sky. I’ve missed the crackle of tires on gravel and getting dirty and the thrill of seeing wild animals large and small. I’ve even missed the hard parts. The rain storm flooding out our campsite, the unexpected blizzard and the bushwhacking.

Maybe this will be the year that I stand up to my husband when I know he’s going the wrong way on the trail. Or the year that I camp in the snow with confidence. Or the year I learn to make fire without matches or flint.

The important thing is the season is finally here and I’m about to find out.

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