Camping Alone Part One (PCT 2013)

Have finally gone and camped by myself. Twice. The first time was a Tent Cabin in Big Basin. I chose a tent cabin because it seemed the least scary and therefore the most likely to lead to a successful venture. It’s good to have early successes! When I first pulled up at the tent cabin, I was like, whoa, this is more secluded than I intended. The camp site was surrounded by tall brush and even taller Redwood trees. My husband helped me schlep my stuff into the ‘cabin’ and we sat down at the lopsided picnic table out front.

I chose a tent cabin as my first camping solo experiment. Pretty cushy digs, yeah? Hardly camping at all!

It was a nice cool day, there were a lot of chirping and scurrying critters under the brush.  I was a lot more scared than I cared to share. “This is gonna be great,” I told my husband, “No problem.” Right at that moment a giant branch snapped off from a senior Sequoia and crashed into the tent cabin and clattered to the ground. The boom echoed through the trees, startling every critter nearby. I went over there and pulled the branch off of the cabin. We inspected the cloth roof for holes or tears. Everything seemed fine. Everything except my nerves. I pushed my husband toward the car, encouraging him to leave before I changed my mind.

I had to push this branch off the roof of the cabin. It was an ominous start. Several branches crashed down around the campsite through the night, btw.

45 minutes later I was really feeling good about the whole thing. I felt more aware of my surroundings than when I camp with other people. My senses were heightened and tuned in. My attention to sound became more acute. I started to feel less a visitor, and had a sense of becoming more a part of the ecosystem. I sat still and listened to the Redwoods creak and moan like grumpy old men. I watched a small bird rummage through some fallen leaves.My fears were melting away. In fact, I was looking forward to the rest of the evening, and ready to tackle any fears about sleeping alone in the woods.

Sammy has no idea why I worry so much about where I sleep, and wishes I would get over it, already.

A few moments after that, two giant pick-up trucks pulled into the tent cabin next to mine. My sense of wilderness and seclusion and inter-connectedness instantly dissipated. “Oh my God, Tanya. Seriously?” A grown man boomed from one pick up. I couldn’t see them but I could hear more than a half-dozen bodies jump out of the trucks and start clanging things around. “That’s your Dad’s ball, Nicole, and if you don’t put it down right now I’m gonna beat you,” a shrill voice admonished. “Jenna, seriously! Don’t you DARE go hiking in those boots. They are BRAND new!” another voice exclaimed.

I haven’t done a lot of car camping, and this was by far the worst experience I’ve had so far. The people in the cabin next to me truly did not like each other , or camping, and made it very clear all night long. They also, in spite of two pick up trucks full of things I heard them setting up and pulling down, they somehow managed to come ill-equipped. Later that night I listened to them stumble around like crazy zombies because none of them had brought a flashlight. Even later that night, I was awoken from a fitful sleep as 2 of the men came around my cabin in an attempt to poach it for themselves. After that I just couldn’t sleep. I listened to them fight, I listened to them get harassed by Raccoons, I listened to them get complaints from other campers, and then I listened to them blame each other for the fights, the Raccoons, and the complaints from the other campers.

The next morning, when I heard the sound of my husband’s car pull into the camp parking space, I ran out there and flung myself into his arms. “Get me out of here!” I cried, and threw my hastily packed gear into the trunk. He assumed that I had a bad wilderness experience, and I was like, “No, I’ve had a bad people experience.”

Coooooooofffffffeeeeeeee! Aaron brought me a cup of coffee when he picked me up. I say thank’ya, kind sir.

Next time, I told myself, Real tent. Real camp spot. Fewer people. And I did manage to get one of those right on my next trip.

(to be continued…..)