Queer Youth Backpacking (Summer 2017)

Last summer I hopped a plane to Hartford, Connecticut from Tampa, Florida. Travis picked me up at the airport and we drove to TVOP's base, where the other teens and I piled into the queerest van on Earth.

It was beautiful with its rainbow breathing dragons, solar system, and quirky bumper stickers. It took us to some cabins where we would spend our first night filling our packs, eating s’mores, and enjoying indoor plumbing for a bit longer. The next morning we set out. Throughout the next six days, we learned why Vermont is affectionately called "Vermud" by hikers and that there are at least two different types of rain: tree piss and sky diarrhea. A few other lessons we learned were wet boots aren’t so bad compared to burnt boots, freeze dried bananas are not delicious, and hiking two miles at a steep incline is totally worth the view, and the victory candy bar.

A short summary of each day is: day 1, I tried a tofu hot dog for the first time. Day 2, I slipped on a boardwalk and landed right on my ass. We also went swimming in a foggy lake and it was awesome.  Day 3, I took a dump in the most scenic place yet and we all sat by the fire singing songs with a thru hiker. Day 4, I swam in a second beautiful lake while overhearing another backpacking group discuss hypothetical situations taking place at a Denny’s; it was one of the stranger things I’ve heard. Day 5, we were ambushed by flying squirrels (whom Perry valiantly fought off). Day 6, we set up camp beside a river and I made a giant carne. We also made pudding and I put too much peanut butter in the peanut noodles (I am so sorry). Day 7, we piled into the van and said our goodbyes back where we started, after getting some homemade donuts at a country store.

Overall, I believe we hiked about 32 miles. I will never forget last summer’s TVOP trip and I can’t wait to join them this summer. If you’ll be coming too, be ready to poop in the woods, take a dip in a lake or two, and tell stories you’ve never thought you would. See you then!

perry cohen