Thoughts on Camping

I came across this recently, which I had written back in the fall when Husband and I went camping last. Reading my own words made me realize that as much as I love hunkering down in my home, I’m developing a bit of cabin fever. I’m ready for winter to be over and warm weather to come again…

I’m going camping. I’m going camping. I’m going camping.

This has been my refrain for days now, looking forward to the blissful 48 hours I get to spend in the mountains, away from life and all its responsibilities. A wet 48 hours to be sure, but 48 of them all to ourselves. And the Giga, always with the Giga.

I think this is my favorite part of camping. Right here. The first night. The tent is set up, firewood is gathered, the pup is settled, Husband is puttering around the campsite adjusting things. I’m sitting by the fire soaking it all in. This.

It’s the anticipation. The “we’re finally here”. The sounds of crickets and frogs and all kinds of amazing things — a sound the drowns out the voices of our temporary “neighbors”. It’s so loud it is overwhelming. And it’s perfect. Because we’re here, doing this. We have the whole weekend ahead of us.

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

On this first evening, I’m dreaming about sleeping in the tent. In my dreams its just like my childhood, where I slept so soundly cuddled far down in my sleeping bag. The ground wasn’t too hard. The noises weren’t worrisome (I think it necer occurred to me that a bear might visit our campsite, which most definitely happened the last time we went camping). I was a small child, given the shortest spot to lay, by the door or on the step (yes, my “bed” in our pop-up was the step up to the boys’ bed), but it never bothered me. It was never cramped. I don’t think about fitting my 5’7″ frame with Husband’s 6’2″ body and a 65 lb lanky dog in a 2-person tent. In fact, I long for it.

I recollect camping in the heat as a child, just like I remember camping in the freezing cold while in college, but it isn’t quite tangible to me anymore. I forget the sticky sweaty feeling of humid summer camping.

I look forward to waking up with the sun in the morning, somehow blocking from mind that it’s usually the sound of car doors slamming and children squeeling that wakes me at campgrounds. I forget just how hard it is to dress in a compact tent (skinny jeans are NOT the best option here).

I dream about hiking up the mountain tomorrow, about the view from the top and the euphoria of reaching it. I forget that I work a desk job now and am terribly out of shape, that it’s hot and sticky and we don’t have any water bottles. I anticipate the exuberance of the pup while forgetting that she will be pulling my arm out of its socket for at least the first mile or two.

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

Yes, the first night my eyes are full of stars. My heart is content, I am looking forward to everything the weekend will bring. Inevitably, it won’t be glamourous. The ground will be hard, the air thick, I’ll sleep fitfully. The hike will be steep, my thighs will burn and I will huff and puff throughout. Cleanup will be a bear. Everything will be sandy and nothing will fit exactly the way it did when we packed it at home. And, more than likely, it will all be soaked by the impending storm.

But when we leave, it will be with a sense of satisfaction. A knowing of having conquered the great outdoors. A rhythm that we only achieve when we get to spend days on end together. A wistfulness from having to leave it all behind. And when we arrive back to our real lives — the messy, over-ful, too busy, hard lives that we live — we will ache to return to our beautiful mountains. We will dream of the simplicity of life there. And we will forget all about the smell of bug spray, the stickiness of sweat, the constant grit of sand between our toes, the hardness of the ground, the reality of our physical condition. And we will wait with anticipation for the next chance we have to embark on such an adventure.

Camping and sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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