I have been camping many times in large groups, mostly scout camping trips. With all that experience, I thought it would be easy to just pick up and go on my own. And it was the first time. I packed up the truck, met my daughter in a small Colorado town, and we headed a few miles out to a camp site she had scouted earlier. The site was in a National Forest and was free. It was next to a small creek with little traffic on the road. We knew what amenities were not available, mainly a bathroom and potable water, what the fire conditions were, and where to get water, ice, and firewood. We figured out what we needed to do to meet the LNT (Leave No Trace) guidelines. I had prepped a lot of what we were planning to cook. I had a high-density Styrofoam cooler that worked great for packing the meat in dry ice. We hiked, went horseback riding, shopped, saw a play, and talked around the campfire. We had a great time.
I did over pack though. Digging through all the cooking/eating supplies and equipment was a bit of a hassle, but not enough to ruin any part of the trip. My daughter did not like the tent I bought, too small, but we both slept well enough. So, now I knew how to change up things for the next trip and it would be even better. Yeah, right.
My next trip was by myself to a different area of Colorado; one I had been to 20 years earlier. Since we had camped at a free Forest Service camp site the first time, I thought I would be able to find a similar one this time. I did find a free camp site where I could hear the creek and the toilet was really close-by. So, I thought okay, this will work nicely. Not really. After I had set up camp, I discovered one of the changes that had taken place over the last 20 years; the astronomical increase in the number and types of off-road vehicles. Really loud ones. And the toilet was next to the road. Guess where all of those vehicles stopped every morning and evening? So, here I am, a woman camping by herself for the first time in a high traffic area in what is actually a rather remote area. Hmm. It’ll be okay.
Learning from the first trip, I packed only half of the equipment in the cooking and eating category. It worked out well. Not too much, but everything I needed. I did not have a cooler for keeping the meat on dry ice. That was much more inconvenient. I did not prep the meals ahead of time, but I was by myself so it really wasn’t a problem. I had firewood, but it took some asking around to find out where to get ice and potable water. And the water tasted like the garden hose it came through, so I needed to do a better job of that next adventure.
I hiked two full days. Saw some beautiful areas. Checked two trails off my list. Managed to take everything I needed on those hikes. I had a great time and was worn out when I got back to camp. Turns out, I do not like my sleeping bag. Really don’t like it. And I didn’t realize that the first trip. Combine not sleeping well with two, eight-hour hikes; I was really tired. Time to check out sleeping bags!
I enjoyed the second trip although I did not manage to relax as much as I was hoping. The road noise, the closeness of all those people, and being really tired took some of the enjoyment out of the trip. But now I know all the things I need to research, the equipment I need to replace, and how much equipment to take. I plan to really enjoy the next one. It does take practice to enjoy camping. Think about every aspect of daily living. Plan how you are going to manage eating, sleeping, and hygiene. Plan your activities. Research the area you are planning to visit if you are not familiar with it. Then go ahead. Get out there and get some practice. It’s worth it.
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