On Camping

This is a part of the Dirty-Thirties series that I thought I would share here as well – have been thinking a lot about camping as the summer winds down and as my husband starts planning our return to the great outdoors next summer – Enjoy!

Dirty Camping:

Camping is dirty. I am in my thirties. I have been camping while in my thirties. I have been dirty while camping in my thirties. More dirty thirties.

Reading this opening paragraph may give an initial impression that I do not care for camping, which is not entirely true, though it is also not entirely false. There are things about camping that I like very much, but most of these things I can do without ending my day sleeping in a tent. Indeed the whole tent thing seems to be a make-or-break for camping so ultimately I guess I am on the not-like side of camping to the extent that it is defined as tent sleeping. There it is: I do not like sleeping in a tent. I do not like sleeping in a tent on a big air mattress – the air mattress is not as comfortable as my bed and it deflates, and there is the problem of the size of the person I share said mattress with. Oh and also I really, really, really like to take a shower during the day, not every day, but more often than not and I really, really, really hate the attitude of other “real campers” who think you are a camping pussy if you like to shower: well fuck you all is what I have to say about that!

Okay so now that I have the basics out there let’s talk about the plus side of camping: being outside, taking long hikes, seeing fabulous things that are far away and require feet to get to, not having to drive, not having to dress up (my like of showers does not translate into a like of having to look good), the stars at night, ice-cold lakes, the smell of the trees – aaah all of these are wonderful things. They are also by and large things you can do while also not having to sleep in a tent. For instance I can hike to the top of Vernal falls, enjoy an amazing picnic, take my life into my hands and have a little swim and then hike back down to my nice room at the Lodge (see I’m not a princess I didn’t say it had to be the Awanhee). Hell I’d even cook outside because really I like my own food better than what you get in a lot of restaurants anyway (but I don’t want to do the dishes outside in a tub with not much hot water – it’s not very sanitary!).

Let’s also explore the bummer things that I can’t do if I don’t want to camp: backpacking I can’t do – I’m not really that excited about the idea of carrying all of my stuff on my back anyway but if I’m not willing to sleep in a tent this is something I can’t do, and therefore I am told will miss out on some really spectacular hikes, views and wonders – oh well. I probably can’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail which is something I really want to do – though I have not ruled out the possibility of finding a way to hike most of the trail while stopping in towns with rooms and showers every night.

On the side of things I would miss out on and things that are great there is a lot to be said about camping – I have truly enjoyed myself on most of the camping trips I have been on with the exception of the LOUD people in Tahoe and the e-coli incident in Lassen, but more on that soon. But in the interest of equity let’s explore the not so appealing side of camping and see just how dirty we can get.

Let’s start with sex (we are after all talking dirty thirties): serious campers – and I am not talking about RV campers or major car-campers – always talk about the great camping sex. It’s raw, it’s natural, so romantic out under the trees or on the beach or next to the lake, blah blah blah. First of all I’m not sure who you are camping with but the guy I go camping with doesn’t smell so fabulous after a long day of hiking and by about day three I don’t even want to share a tent with him much less share sweat. Then there is that gorgeous lake that could kind of get you in the mood after a short swim – after all you might smell better and you are now so cold that you want to get warm, but now you have exposed your entire body to the mosquitos – this is something you will regret later, I promise! Oh and the beach – the fabulous sexy beach where the beautiful couple is always frolicking in the surf in the movies – they don’t show you the sand sticking everywhere – just imagine that for a while and see how in the mood you feel. And then of course there is the after sex where you are now camping and not showering and just how long do you want to go smelling like a rutting badger?

So now that we are not having sex while camping, what are the upsides that really make it worth it? How about the dust – it permeates everything so that by day 2 you can identify the clean spots on your body by the lack of grayish film covering them – lovely. How about the bathrooms – should we even go there, literally or figuratively? If you are camping in a populated area there is probably a real bathroom with running water, and a lot of people who are sharing it with you. If you are in a remote location you have a pit toilet – need I say more? If you are not yet deterred from your desire to camp let me just share this – I don’t recommend picking up an intestinal virus or bacterium right before you head out to BFN for a week of camping – if you get to the point where you are spending more time in the pit toilet than out I can assure you of true personal growth, and I strong desire to never go camping again!

Let’s also just briefly explore the culture of camping as created by other campers – not the true nature lovers but the people who think of themselves as real campers and denigrate non-campers – oh I’ve known a lot of these people. These are the people who take their RV out to the “wilderness” and set up in a parking lot where they can spend a week sitting on a lawn chair in dirt drinking beer. Not the folks who take the long hikes, or drive for miles on dirt roads to get to nowhere. These are the people who have crank powered blenders for their margaritas and who always leave food in the car for the bears. These are the people who always say, “you just don’t seem like the camping type.” And they are correct – I don’t like to sit on my ass drinking beer – if I wanted to vacation like trailer trash I would pack up my spam and head to a walmart, but that’s not really my speed. These are the people who come to places easy to get to and stay up ALL NIGHT partying and by the way a thin piece of nylon does not keep the sound out!

So here we are – I have camped plenty, and I have paid my camping dues. I know I can do it – I proved I can be one of them (both the car campers and the rustic types) – and I am left with this: camping is not the top of my favorite activity list. So what to do if you really don’t mind nature dirt, really like hiking and like the part where you get to be in remote places away from other people (especially that)? Hut camping! Hike in remote areas from hut to hut each day – don’t have to carry a lot of stuff – you have a sort of bed every night, and there may even be sort of facilities for cleaning oneself. This may even lead to a desire for nature sex – dirty fun!

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