The three stages of camping and how to recognise them

It’s finally camping time!

I don’t care who you are, when you live in California, you’ve got to camp. It’s a crime to be in a place with beautiful weather AND spectacular national parks and not crack out the tent.

So this weekend Mr M and his parents and I are heading in a north-ish direction – I’m not good with directions – for three days of hiking, building fires, eating, sleeping and avoiding poison oak and ivy.

I cannot wait. It’s going to be awesome.

Today’s photos were brought to you by my Overland Track camping adventure And Yosemite trip. This is Cradle Mountain.

However, I’ve only been proper camping twice before and one of those times was in Tasmania, so you just know that it was freezing. (Sidebar: It was The Overland Track and if you ever find yourself in that part of the world you need to do it. It was spectacular and I only wanted to stop and curl up inside my tent once because we were on a mountain top and it was raining SIDEWAYS).

Those experiences made me realise that there are three distinct cycles of camping: The Naivety, The Reckoning, and The Melancholy and The Infinite Sadness because I don’t care what you say, the Smashing Pumpkins were pretty cool.

We need to talk about them.

THE NAIVETY

You gotta commune with your local Pademelon.

This is a good one. It’s the entire reason you decided to go camping in the first place.

How to recognise it: This stage can span from the time you book your camp site to anywhere around 12 hours after you arrive and set up your stuff. Although, it may come back in flashes while you’re on a hike or swimming in a lake or burning leeches off your body. OK, maybe not that last one.

Isn’t this fun?
You’re excited about spending time with nature, discovering animals you’ve never seen before, waking up to the sounds of birdsong, building cosy campfires, telling stories, sharing quality time with significant others, friends and family, breathing fresh air. You get the picture. There are smores and stuff.

How to counteract it: To be fair, this doesn’t really need any counteracting. My only advice is, best enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s great and it reminds me why the outside is an amazing place and there’s a lot to learn about it. Sit back, breathe in the air, drink a cup of tea and settle into your favourite book.

THE RECKONING

It’s raining and freezing, all my socks are wet, my back hurts, I can’t feel my fingers. Eff this.
You knew The Naivety couldn’t last forever didn’t you? This is the stage that will test your resolve.
How to recognise it: You’ve hiked to a new spot for the third day in a row, your fingers are so frozen-through that you actually can’t feel your fingers. Good luck setting up that tent there fool!
You’re not 17 anymore and two days of sleeping on the actual ground on top of a piece of foam that does sweet F-all did not shield your aching hike-weary bones and muscles from even more pain.
Those birds keep waking you up and you’re not happy about it. What’s with the sun peaking in and the condensation dripping on your forehead anyway?Why is there no phone reception? You want to check Instagram or find out if there’s been a revolution in my absence.

Go away sun. I’m trying to nap.

You haven’t showered in days, you stink, that gritty sandy feeling between your toes is driving you nuts and holy shit is it really raining now? What are you going to do? Sit in your tent all day reading that stupid book that you thought you liked but now you’ve gotten to the boring middle part where nothing happens?

It’s the middle of the night and there’s rustling outside. Is it a bear? Or a raccoon? Do raccoons kill? Will a raccoon accept trail mix as a bargaining chip to save your life? And if the bear doesn’t find any food will it just make a beeline for your tent to make you into dinner?

How to counteract it: You knew this day was coming. You’re cranky because the coffee doesn’t quite taste the same and your head hurts. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and for godsakes air out your tent. Unless there’s a bear outside. Don’t open your tent to a bear.

There are two things that you can do in The Reckoning stage depending on the weather/time of day:

1. Daytime/nice weather: Go for a little walk on your own. Get away from the people (the aforementioned family and friends) who are driving you nuts, take some chocolate with you and sit or walk on your own for a while.
2. Nighttime/bad weather: Curl up in your sleeping bag and have a nap. Everything’s better after a nap. Also, use those wet wipe things for a shower.P.S. If it’s a bear, you’re screwed.

THE MELANCHOLY

Awww, I swear, it’s the bestest!

Not just for Romantics or poets, the melancholy is what usually spurs you to think you had fun.

 

How to recognise it: It’s the morning or the night before you have to leave. You don’t want to go back to normal life. That would mean you have to work and respond to emails and talk to other people on the phone. WHO EVEN NEEDS CIVILISATION ANYWAY?

Don’t worry baby deer, we’ll be back.

You don’t want to leave. You’re sad. You appreciate being outside and to be honest, you had fun. You’re kind of happy that you get to go home and eat a burger and have a shower though, so it’s not all bad, hence the melancholy.

How to counteract it: Tip some sand into your boots and remember what it felt like yesterday when you were cold and tired and sick of eating two-minute noodles.

You’re welcome.

Camping | US camping | Camping for beginners | Aussie | Expat | Aussie Expat in US | expat life
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