So, my best friend and I attempted camping for the first time last weekend. We went to Lake Fairfax Park, because it’s within easy driving distance of both of our houses so we didn’t have to worry about being stranded if something went wrong.
Which was good because almost immediately the lighter we brought didn’t work and I had forgotten to bring a back up lighter or matches. So I ran home for those so we could have dinner the first night.
The first night was mostly uneventful. We set up our tent and fixed a yummy dinner of chili with mac and cheese. My camp stove was pretty easy to use, and the freeze-dried chili pouch we bought at REI turned out to be pretty yummy. I could have used some crackers or cheese, but overall not a bad choice.
We hung out in a pair of cushy chairs for a while, then went to curl up in the tent and read for a bit before we tried to go to bed. Now, I did learn one important thing: I don’t care how many years mankind survived with just sleeping bags, the invention of the sleeping pad is nothing to turn up your nose at.
I couldn’t decide what kind I wanted to get before the trip, and the expense was just so high after all the other stuff we’d bought that I decided to pass on it for now. That was a MISTAKE. It was really quite uncomfortable, and I don’t want to do that again. I’m contemplating getting a cot for next time and just going all out, because a good night’s sleep is so vital, plus I actually felt bruised on my hips from the ground when I got home.
The other fun part of the trip was that around 2 a.m. on Friday night, the rain started.
And then it didn’t stop. It rained for hours, and the good news was the rain fly on the tent was working beautifully. At about 8 a.m. I went for a walk around the park because I wanted to get my steps in for my Fitbit. We had cold foods for breakfast, and about 10 a.m. we retreated to Cyn’s house for a while because she had to feed her cats and I wanted to check more detailed weather reports than I could get on my phone.
We came back for lunch, which was a huge challenge because my camp stove wouldn’t stay lit in the wind, even though we were using an umbrella to keep the rain off of it. So, windscreen goes on the list of things to buy.
Then it just kept raining, I think it stopped around two in the afternoon for about an hour, and we took another walk around the park. Then we went back to the tent for an hour or so because there was another storm on the weather radar.
That one was a doozy, when it ended at about 5 p.m., we came out to stretch our legs and the camp host let us know that the road out of the campground was underwater. Of course, we had to see that, so we took another walk.
That’s the dam at Lake Fairfax, and then the road that leads up to the campground. Normally that spillway has barely a trickle of water on it, and the road doesn’t look too bad until you realize that water next to it isn’t supposed to be there at all. All of that in the picture should be a grassy area, with a little stream running through at the bottom, and the water was flowing fast, pouring over the road and onto the other side, so it was a lot of dangerous conditions all together, especially since at that point they were predicting several more hours of raining that evening.
Thankfully that didn’t end up happening. We went back to camp and made dinner (a pasta dish that had far too much zucchini and thus was rendered mostly tasteless and gross, but delicious mashed potatoes) then grabbed our stuff and went to bed for the night. There was a thunderstorm at 1 a.m. where we decided to get into the car for a little bit just in case (the lightening was striking very close, within a mile) but overall the rest of the storm system didn’t materialize so the next morning everything was really back to normal. We had some oatmeal for breakfast, packed up our camp, and went back to our normal lives and I slept for three hours in my cushy normal bed.
Things I learned:
-sleeping pads, for real.
-a good wind screen is really valuable even with a nice camp stove instead of trying to light twigs on fire or anything.
-A camp stove is great, but when the guy next to us built a fire I realized that a good camp fire is something really awesome too, so next time we’ll learn to build a fire. In a fire pit, of course.
-The waterproofing on the tent can only take so much. At one point there was so much moisture gathered in the grass under the tent that it was seeping through anywhere that we put weight.
-Finding good freeze dried foods is going to be such a trial and error job.
-We need some better method for stirring the food in the pouches, or to remove it to cook it because there’s too much powdered stuff left at the bottom that doesn’t get properly done.
-Next time the forecast calls for a lot of rain, maybe we’ll cancel our plans and stay home.