Camping Conundrum-- Part 1

Sometimes I question why I go camping, and I'm not talking from a philosophical standpoint. While the idea of packing up everything I could possibly "need" to create an alternate indoor living experience- outside- has naturally crossed my mind, I don't see a problem with it per se.

In theory, I love camping. I mostly love the idea of being immersed in the woods with no electronic influences interrupting my time. I do love hiking, and making fires, and creating primitive-style meals, and most importantly spending time with people who's company I enjoy so completely that I don't need anything else to occupy my time.  I love that we now have a huge plastic tub full of all of the camping paraphernalia we have accumulated including, but not limited to: one Swiss army knife complete with a can opener, bottle opener and a cork remover; varying sized tents depending on the type of excursion; a single burner propane cooker and two mess kits; a small axe; sleeping bags; a tarp; bug spray; a head lamp; and two light sources that require you to wind them up for power. Actually, I could list out every piece of camping gear we have, but it is quite possible I have lost most of you by now, and I haven't even explained why it is that my love for camping is at times temperamental. Usually between 12:00 and 4:00 AM my mantra of "I love camping" is replaced with, "What am I doing out here?"

Sometimes (every, single time) while camping I am awakened by some nondescript sound. I lay there with my eyes wide open, and my body so completely frozen for undetermined lengths of time that I already know I'm going to be stiff in the morning. I lay there all opossum-like waiting for the noise to play out again so that I can get a clearer understanding of the source. But above all I wait for the noise to "not happen" again so that my body can relax and I can hopefully fall back into at least a fitful sleep. In the meantime though, my mind creates little images and scenes of what the noise most likely is, and I have to warn you...they aren't always pretty.

Sure, the noises I hear are probably just branches falling, or small animals eating spilled over dog food at the campsite and not at all some psycho set up in the woods watching over the campers determining his next prey, but that is the Texas Chainsaw-esque image that tends to enter my mind. I'm sure Bambi is just walking around the perimeter with Thumper, but instead I imagine grizzlies and cougars and mountain lions surrounding my tent in a team effort to take us down.  I know these thoughts are not entirely rational, but I can't really seem to help it. My dad once tried to explain how the crazies who prey upon others are probably not going to venture into the woods to do the job, that they'd be more apt to stay where people are. My parents have also told me since I was very little that animals are likely to stay away from people as long as we aren't enticing them into our tent with food, etc...

I believe that my parents are 85% accurate in their logic, but my mathematical mind also tells me that leaves 15% of instances where crazies, completely content to be living up in the hills, isolated in order to do just as they please, and/or wildlife take down campers/hikers just for sport. I, of course, have no factual support for my statistics other than what my mind insists is accurate. But, someone once told me that 87% of statistics are made up anyway, and I really think this just supports my point all the more.

While some might think otherwise, my mind isn't always the source of my camping downfall. Sometimes it is simply poor timing (mixed in with just a little crazy). Take our Packwood camping trip for instance.

Packwood is the quintessential WA type of beautiful.  We hiked in five miles before we arrived at the campsites that were designated around the lake. This is backpack camping, not car camping, so no primitive bathrooms or last minute items available at the campground store which was just fine with me in exchange for how gorgeous the surroundings were. This was when I said, "I love camping!"

And then we tried building a fire for over an hour on the ridiculously unnecessary, marshy wet WA ground. We actually found success in the second hour and were quite proud of ourselves. We also successfully made dinner, but admittedly we had lost much of our energy and enthusiasm.  We went to bed only to wake up sometime between 12:00 and 4:00 AM to Leah sleeping on our faces and us not even caring. WE WERE FREEZING! And her 65 pounds of warmth and fur coat felt nice against my skin. It was spring, but WA typically refuses to acknowledge this. I was equally concerned that the team of grizzly, mountain lion and cougar were devising a group snuggle and snack, with us a major component. This is where I said, "What am I doing out here?" I'm pretty sure we were packed up and hiking back out before the "sun" broke.

Another prime example of poor timing was at Gold Bluffs Beach Campground in CA, quite possibly the prettiest established campground I have ever been to.
Gold Bluffs Campground is in the Redwoods and only accessible after a 20 minute drive off the main road, through thick woods, and on a one lane road full of the biggest potholes I have ever seen. Each site is nestled down on the sand, with the ocean in front and the cliff walls behind. This is obviously an ideal venue...during the right season. Tyler and I left WA during our spring break to camp and drive along the West Coast. We chose to ignore the simple fact that N. California weather is awfully similar to Oregon and Washington. And so while we attempted to find sun, we instead found our first glimpse of snow we had had all year, high up in the redwoods.
We figured it would be chilly, but, you know, doable. Plus, we were decked out with two new North Face sleeping bags that zipped together. We told ourselves we would not be having another Packwood experience. When we arrived at the campgrounds, it seemed we had our choice of sites. [Foreshadowing] The sky had cleared, and the excitement poured out of us as we ran from site to site, giddy, giggling, probably holding hands and skipping at our good fortune.

We picked a fantastic site, one closest to the beach, and immediately started to set up the tent. Did I mention that while temporarily sunny (picture a light gray sky), there were approximately 40 mph wind gusts? (That fact is 87.5% true.) "No worries," we assured ourselves, "we have plenty of tent stakes."

To be continued...


  1. But the memories you are making could not be replaced.


  2. Always wear a hat to bed when camping. I made the mistake of not doing that one time when we were camped out on the shores of an iced-over lake, NEVER AGAIN. And, I love Packwood too. Nothing beats walking around Goat Rocks Wilderness!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Eat Healthy, Stay Dairy Queen

"Sitting is the New Smoking"

Holiday Pudding Shots