They were gone within the first five minutes! That’s the good news. These Energy Balls are so tasty they disappear in a big hurry. The bad news is that none were left when we really needed them on our crazy, brutal, one of a kind backpacking hike!
She’s not exactly the throw-on-a-pair-of-hiking-boots-and-trek-into-some-remote-area type of 16-year-old girl. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when my daughter asked me to take her out backpacking for a couple days during her fall break! I knew I needed to make it special. And I knew I needed great food and snacks. Sweet, chewy, rich, no-cook, no-bake Energy Balls were exactly the type of snack we needed.
I picked out a fabulous hike – the first 3 miles on a well-maintained, fairly easy trail just north of beautiful Sedona, Arizona. But the last 3 miles… (oh those last 3 miles!) wind and meander up and down and in and out of the icy waters of spectacular Oak Creek Canyon. Truly spectacular! And spectacularly difficult… those last 3 miles.
All smiles and full of energy, we hit the road with our 40+ pound backpacks (yeah, I probably overpacked for a three-day backpacking trip. Lesson learned!) We reached for our water packs and of course the beautiful, flavorful Energy Balls at our first snack break. They were gone in a hurry and gave us just the right amount of energy we needed to get through the next part of the hike. Well… almost.
Most folks turn around at the end of the maintained trail. Not us! We donned our water shoes, strapped our hiking boots to the outside of our packs and hit the water. The only way to get farther is to wade through the creek. First, ankle deep. Next, thigh deep. And finally, chest deep (we had to carry our packs on our heads through that part!) Ice cold creek water. Ice cold! Yikes! Although I knew we’d have to make our way through the creek, I had no idea the extent of it. And it was too late to turn back. We were 4 miles in and it was 4 p.m. Definitely no way we could get back before dark.
So we trudged on, both showing the beginning signs of hypothermia. Not good. We were required to get at least 6 miles in to overnight camp, according to the “rules.” By this point, I knew this wasn’t going to happen. At five miles, we found our spot. And trust me when I say, it was not much more than a “spot” 30 feet by 30 feet at the most. Damp dirt carved out of the beautiful slot canyon. But I felt like we had hit the jackpot! We stripped out of our wet clothes, put on our wool socks, beanie caps, and down jackets. Set up our tent, started a fire, and fed our bellies! Ahhhh… we made it! We were going to survive.
The morning was a spectacular sight – sunlight peeking over the top of the towering canyons, birds chirping in the trees high above, and a slow-moving creek bubbling beside us. But it was cold. The sun never does really hit the ground at the bottom of those slot canyons. With no real way to warm up, and no drier ground within our grasp, we decided to head home. One day and one mile short. But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for anything – the mother/daughter backpacking challenge is something neither of us will ever forget! We did it together. We survived it together. We saw and experienced a part of nature that few people ever see, together. And we devoured those delicious, slightly sweet, chewy, Energy Balls…. together. Life is good!