This was actually my first backpacking trip. My internship mentor lent me one of his old hiking backpacks and I got some boots to start me on my way. It was a very challenging trip with altitude change almost every single day with a total altitude change of approximately 9800 ft. For someone going on his first hiking trip, this was a lot to take in! Luckily, I was in shape enough that I was able to keep up and ended up loving almost every minute of the trip. Taking a look at our maps, one can see every place that we planned to camp overnight.
There were a lot of fun and challenging things that happened on the trip. Most memorable was definitely right after Elk Lake. We were doing great on time, arriving at around 2:00 PM. It was a bit overcast, but our group decided to try to make it to the next site. My friend Dan and I saw a storm cloud rolling in. We decided it didn't look too good and left the trail to make camp. We made it about 100 yards before the storm rolled in faster than we have ever seen and released a massive hailstorm. We put up our tents in a grove of pine trees as fast as we could, ending up with hail in and around our tents. We huddled in our tents until the torrent subsided 15-20 minutes later. The whole area looked like it had snowed before melting before dark. Luckily, we were able to cook and do everything we needed to after the hail stopped. It was quire an experience going from a 75 degree day and sunny to hail and down to mid-30s at night.
We went a total of 70 miles after the detours and backtracking that we did sometimes. The sign at Willow Park reservoir was flipped around, the path was in disarray, and the second path that was going there pretty much wasn't there. We travelled well past before realizing we were almost at the end of the reservoir. We definitely learned that day that maps can be inaccurate or trails aren't always upkept.