Uncle John invited me to go backpacking with him. While my parents were worried about how I would manage, I was excited. Backpacking sounded footloose and fancy free. It sounded like fun to me.
Uncle John had warned me to travel light, so it was just one extra pair of jeans, a few pairs of socks a couple of tees and some clean underwear. Of course, mom had to put some sweets in it, just in case Uncle John forgot to feed me or I got lost in the wilderness.
We backpacked across Manali. We slept in a tent at night and walked by day, breaking only for food and to take in the sights. The trails were beautiful. I had been to Manali before but only seen tourist spots. Backpacking was discovering the landscape and getting to know it intimately. It was fun. Uncle John had a map and a compass so there was no fear of getting lost. We’d sometimes stop by brooks to splash in the water and eat under shady trees. There were no restrooms so we would find a clump of trees and go behind them to do our business. We used water judiciously as we never knew how long it would be before we got to refill our bottles again. At night we would build campfires and I would sing to the strains of Uncle Johns mouth organ. It was beautiful and I felt at one with nature.
There were no fancy hotels with fancy food and fancy beds but everywhere we went we had the sky for cover, the earth under our feet, the wind in our faces and the sun on our backs. It was a unique experience and I can’t wait to do it again.