Camping Alone Part Two (PCT 2013)

For my second go at camping solo, I picked Henry Coe. People go to backpack at Henry Coe, but it also has about 14 car camping spots, so it seemed I had come upon a good compromise between my need to expose myself to seclusion and my fear of letting go of the façade of security that staying in an established campsite gives me.

The weather had cooled since my first dismal camping debacle, and I was not looking forward to freezing my ass off all night while my husband and cats sat snugly under our copious couch blankets and watched an embarrassing amount of Dr. Who episodes. I kinda moped around all afternoon, being vague and wishy-washy, waiting until the very last moment to take off.

What season do the Daleks morph into foxy ladies?

What season do the Daleks morph into foxy ladies?

It was evening by the time we rounded the last curve of that windy road to Coe. As we turned into the one way road that circled through the campsites, I instantly saw that I had, yet again, made an error in judgement. The campsites were so small, and designed so poorly that they were practically stacked on top of each other. Aaron pulled into my spot and it was so close to the next site that I was convinced we were in the wrong place. But it was getting dark and Aaron had a long ride home, so I jumped out of the car to make the best of things. The only spot in my campsite that even remotely looked liked a tent had been there before ended up being about 15 feet from my neighbors fire pit. There was a woman and two girls tending fire and preparing for dinner and we all avoided each others eyes as I quickly set my tent up.

Improper Distances: That's my tent on the left and their R.V. on the right

Improper Distances: That’s my tent on the left and their R.V. on the right

Aaron left and there wasn’t much to do. I was grumpy and didn’t feel like exploring. Plus, even though there was a shrub separating my picnic table from their fire pit, I still felt like an interloper. I crawled into my tent and began the arduous task of inflating my pad and bundling up in the cheater clothes I brought. (Cheater clothes: clothes I obviously won’t be taking on the trail, i.e. a snow parka, a leopard neck wrap, 3 long underwear and one pair of sweater booties.)

Sweater Booties!!!!!!!!!

Sweater Booties!!!!!!!!!

When I was finally situated, there wasn’t really anything to do except play CrossMe on my phone and listen to the people next door. By this time the menfolk had come back from fishing at Frog Lake, and dinner was being served. They were having burritos. I knew this because the guy who sounded like the father of the family kept going, ” Mmmmm…..burritos……mmmmmmmm……..mmmmmmmmm….this is goooooood burritos…..mmmmmmm.” He then waxed nostalgic about his many years of not liking avocados, until one day in his thirties, he had an Avocado Epiphany, and was now enjoying an Avocado Renaissance. He had a lot of opinions about food. Later in the evening I would hear him proclaim, ” Oh yuck, I ate an onion! What a disappointing thing to do!”

Oh, if only I were an avocado.

The campsites were all full and I could hear people standing around their respective fires and telling tales. I fell asleep to two teen-age boys near-by whispering with bravado about their ‘weenises’ as they pissed into the shrubbery.

Later that night, I was awakened by something, or some things snuffling outside my tent. My heart leaped into my chest and I froze with fear. They circled around and around, and began pawing the ground by the tent awning. Dizzy with fear, I could only think of one thing to do, the thing that works with my cats when they are causing trouble. I threw my makeshift pillow at the side of my tent and went, “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTT!” There was a snarl and then the sound of many paws scurrying away. While I understood logically that I wasn’t in danger, I still couldn’t help but curl up into a ball in the center of the tent, staying as far away from the sides as space allowed, just in case something decided to swipe. And even though the critters were most likely raccoons or foxes, my dreams were full of bears and big hulking things.
A big, hulking thing.

A big, hulking thing.

 I awoke early and my adoptive family next door was already awake, cooking breakfast and planning the day. I climbed out of my tent and sat on the picnic table, eating a bag of Doritos while the smell of scrambled eggs and bacon wafted in the air. I swear it felt like every fricking campsite was cooking bacon that morning. Soon enough the Dad was mmmmmmm’ing his way through a pile of pork, and I heard a little boy say, “Mommy! Where’s that special place we go to every time we finish camping?”
I could suddenly feel the Mom’s very intense awareness of me as she said, “Um, er…..that’s In-N-Out, Josh.”
“Ooooooh, I can’t wait to go to In-N-Out!”

My neighbors this camping trip had been loud, but not at all like that other family. For one, they all seemed to like each other and enjoyed camping. And I felt a silly pride for surviving the “critter attack” in the middle of the night. But I still was kicking myself for not taking a bigger chance and ditching the car camping shenanigans for some real wilderness.

I wonder what was actually outside my tent that night?

I wonder what was actually outside my tent that night?

 I think I’m being too timid. Here it is, already December, and I still haven’t backpacked alone. April will be here before I know it, and I really do want to be as prepared as I can be. So I’m just gonna go do a small overnight-er  something where you have to walk a few miles to get to your site. I’m ready. I am. But….you know….my husband asked if he could come along, so……..
Forget In-N-Out, there's only one thing I want after camping.

Forget In-N-Out, there’s only one thing I want after camping.

4 thoughts on “Camping Alone Part Two (PCT 2013)

  1. You’re not alone in being nervous about camping or hiking by yourself. It’s one of the reasons I don’t long-distance hike. Good luck in overcoming your fears, I know plenty of females who have succeeded! Plus, many indicate that you’ll have opportunities to camp with others when you choose if you can stay with the various herds.

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