So I always have the debate with people as to whether I can even find a girl who enjoys the outdoors as much as I do. The argument usually centers around the almost impossibility of finding ladies who like to immerse themselves in the wild more then the occasional walk through a city park. Most frum girls would love to go camping for a day, at a place with showers and maybe bathrooms, but backpacking is a rare find, and with that I bring you Lydia, a BT who lives in Madison, WI and who sent me this post about the tough ordeals of finding food and clothing for long distance backpacking trips.
This summer before my sophomore year I went on a two-week backpacking trip in the Smoky Mountains, with two of my friends—neither of them observant Jews. In fact one of them was Catholic, from the Catholic university I go to. Backpacking is a hard enough task, but backpacking when you wear a skirt and keep kosher is a whole other thing. The first issue I encountered when planning my trip was what to eat. I am a Baal teshuvah, so I have never been backpacking when wearing a skirt or when keeping kosher. My friends were packing their own freeze-dried trekking food, none of which had heckschers. I tried to research kosher trekking food, but found nothing. After seeking advice from Hesh and my mum, I decided on taking quinoa, a grain that has a lot of protein and is easy to cook, different dried beans, a whole bunch of Luna bars (over priced protein bars made “for women”) and a bunch of instant meals from Osem. I attempted at making my own tofu jerky, but failed miserably.
After the food problem I realized I really didn’t have so many skirts that were appropriate for trekking 5 miles a day with ascending altitude in. My mum suggested I wear a really stretchy a few inches below the knee length skirt. But I didn’t think it would hold up against not being formally washed for two weeks. My friends suggested I wear a jean skirt, but I didn’t think that would be flexible enough. So again, I had to call in the expert—even though Hesh is a dude, I knew from a past blog entry he went on a shidduch with a biker chick and she wore skirts. So, he gave me his advice, but being a dude, his advice did not quite suffice.
I googled trekking skirt and found macabiskirt.com, an awesome company that makes skirts to do outdoor activity in, you can convert into pseudo-pant-shorts. Unfortunately, like all other outdoor-activity-designed clothing it was extortionately over priced for no good reason other than some middle-aged chick invented putting drawstrings in clever places that you could pull and a skirt becomes fake pant-shorts. I decided to let myself get suckered and buy one damn 80-dollar skirt. I figured one good skirt and one mediocre skirt that I could pair with pants/shorts would last me 2 weeks.
After all my preparation I thought I was set, and if anything did go wrong it would be with kashrut, since my pack was a bit heavy with all the inept packaging and the fact that I like to eat a lot. But the first thing to go wrong within the first week was the damn 80-dollar skirt. It was pretty humid, especially in N. Carolina and Tennessee. One day it rained and my skirt got all muddy and the snaps that you use to snap it up to a shorter skirt/shorts got all gunked up so I could no longer snap it up. So I was sweltering and chaffing from the humidity with a full-length skirt on, even though the skirt material was breathable and quick dry the humidity got the best of it. Other than the skirt snaps getting caked thoroughly with mud I had no issues of my kosher food. I took enough to last me 2 weeks and no one tried to borrow my dishes or share food with me.