A Farewell Salute to my Orange Backpack

Well… it finally happened… it was bound to eventually after all, but you’re never quite prepared for it when it does. You’re probably asking your computer right now… “Richard… what the hell are you talking about?” Well… I’ll tell you… about an hour into walking on my second to last day of trekking (coming down from Everest Base Camp), just outside the village of Dingboche, one of the main straps on my orange backpack broke, and a backpack without shoulder straps becomes just about as useful as trekking with a laundry sack or garbage bag, which is to say, not very useful. It was a very sad moment. I, being as stubborn as I am, walked the remaining 4 hours that day just using my hands to hold the broken strap over my shoulder. The following day, which was to be our last trekking day, I jury-rigged the strap down with a well-placed knot.

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D’oh…

The solution for my final day... the black straps hold the blue bag to the side of the backpack and were tight enough to hold a shoulder strap for one day at least...

The solution for my final day… the black straps hold the blue bag to the side of the backpack and were tight enough to hold a shoulder strap for one day at least…

Now, normally, I’m not very attached to “stuff”, but this backpack and I have been through a lot together. I remember buying it… I was in Logrono about 7 days into the Camino de Santiago. The stitching in the shoulder straps on the cheap backpack I had bought in Pamplona (on the day I started the camino) were tearing apart. Since I was in a relatively large city, taking the afternoon off from hiking, I figured I’d get a replacement while I could. After a bit of asking around, I found a Bazar Chino (the Spanish equivalent of a 99 cent store) with a decent selection of backpacks. I found the largest model I could (Bazar Chino’s mostly sell school backpacks for little kids), and had the choice between bright orange and black. Despite the protestations of my camino companera (to her credit, she’s very, very stylish), I went for the orange one. How could I not? It would definitely be the most ridiculous looking backpack on the trail (most everyone has actual outdoor equipment)… I even, for my own entertainment, wore it straight away, all the way back to the hotel (giggling like a school kid the whole time… much to my companera’s chagrin). My decision to get a spare backpack, for once, proved to a remarkable action of foresight, as, not just a few days later, the stitching on my current bag finally gave way, leaving me with one sad strap, right in the middle of a long, hot, dusty section of the camino.

Ever since that moment my orange backpack and I have been like peas and carrots. Now don’t go thinking I’ve been travelling this whole time with just a school kid’s backpack… I just use it for treks and other activities where only a daypack is necessary… I have a duffel bag for my actual travelling needs. But, when it’s time to do something outdoorsy, I break the orange backpack out of the bottom of my duffel bag, stuff it to the limit, and go with it (leaving my duffel bag and other stuff behind to be picked up later). Despite being made in China, this backpack made it with me through the Camino de Santiago, to the top of Mt. Sinai, it survived trekking in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains, ascended Kilimanjaro, saw a Hindu shrine in Pachmari, saw Mt. Everest from the India, completed the Annapurna Circuit and (nearly) made it through the Everest Base Camp trek. Generally, on these treks, it was the only thing I’d carry (as I managed to fit all of my stuff in it… the only exception being Kilimanjaro, where I had porters carry up the tent, sleeping bag and a couple of other items), and I’d always get surprised looks from people exclaiming, “is that all your stuff”, or “how did you manage to bring so few things?” (to which I always wonder… what the hell did you bring to actually fill a bag that size?). So, it is with great regret that I leave the remains of my former backpack in Lukla, Nepal… it was a good run. Farewell faithful friend…

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Breaking it in on the camino…

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At sunset on Mt. Sinai

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In Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains…

me

On top of Kilimanjaro…

Me on top of the hill...

At a Hindu shrine in Pachmari, Idia…

Me stopping to take a picture of a camino-like rock pile covered in snow (my picture didn't come out very well)...

Crossing Thorung La Pass on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal…

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14 thoughts on “A Farewell Salute to my Orange Backpack

  1. How do I say goodbye to what we had?
    The good times that made us laugh
    Outweigh the bad.

    I’m pouring out a little for your orange bag

  2. What a trusty companion that backpack has been — I like the photo tribute to it, showing your and Orange’s shared adventures and its evolution. Sad, but I like how Orange hung in there until the last day of the trek!

    • Merci… I’m glad it made it all the way down as well… didn’t want to have to go hobo style nd carry everything on the end of a stick.

  3. I’m sorry for your loss, Richard. The backpack was your talisman. However, if this is the worst event during your world trek, you are a very lucky man, my friend. Thanks for sharing and keep it up! Stay safe.

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