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A Beginner's Guide to Surviving Camping

I’m not a very outdoorsy type of chick. I don’t like bugs and I get annoyed very easily by nature in general. But I do love fall and fires (not in a weird way). A chance to prove my toughness to someone had me lugging bottled water and blankets to Black Rock Mountain a couple of weekends ago, bound and determined to camp and use my Native American heritage to my advantage. There had to be some instincts left in me from my people, right?

While it wasn’t the middle of the wilderness camping I had envisioned, it certainly wasn’t a hotel with heat and water and a nice warm bed. I was dubious about our ability to survive there, but there was still daylight, so I was only moderately worried.

A lot of my concern came from getting to the campsite. It required going WAY up a mountain, which was fine, until we hit the gravel road with no guardrail on the side. There wasn’t even the pretense of attempting to protect people from plunging down a mountain. And the “homes” – perhaps I should call them dwellings – on the gravel road to my impending death were like something right out of a horror movie, where Mrs. Peacock lives with her inbred children (five points if you get that reference.

Checking in, the cranky old lady confirmed that there were bears and raccoons and they might show themselves. The raccoons I can chase with a stick; bears, not so much. To tell the truth I kind of wanted to have a bear chase my camping companion, but there was no way around me not getting chased by the same bear if that happened, so I started thinking nicer thoughts.

I thought camping meant roughing it. We had more junk than I thought was possible for a night in the woods. Nearly all of it turned out to be dead useful though. Especially since we burned everything in sight in the nice little fire we (I watched) built.  We even had a blow-up mattress in our tent, which was pretty pimp. Sadly, we didn’t have a battery operated heater, because once the sun went down, the only thing warm on that mountain was the one lone raccoon that came to our tent, lured by the smell of burnt hamburgers or possibly rabies.

I was determined to stay the night outside in the tent, no matter how scared I was because this is how all horror movies start; no matter how many rabid raccoons or cranky bears were lurking outside; no matter the spiders that I KNEW were trying to attack me when I was using a tree stump as a bathroom stall. But it was the cold that won out in the end. I was so cold and possibly hallucinating on the fumes from the fire, that before midnight struck on horror mountain, we walked back to the car and slept there, with blankets and heated seats. It was more uncomfortable than a Sleep Number bed, but at least it was warm.

Now you might think from reading this, that camping was the worst time of my life, and that I would tell you to never, ever venture out in the woods, but you’d be wrong. I actually LIKED some parts of camping, and could totally tolerate other moments. It was the cold that got to me in the end, not the spiders or the homicidal maniacs or rabid mountain wildlife, and that’s pretty awesome. I did something that terrified me and I almost enjoyed it. I liked it enough to go back. In slightly warmer conditions, obviously.