It’s just about 5p.m. on Friday and any minute now my boss will do his regular walk through the halls, poking his head in our offices to thank us for the week and wishing us a good weekend. He’s like clockwork and I’ve got his stroll down to the second… here he comes, I already have my pocketbook in one hand as I wave goodbye with the other. Free at last and now it’s home to open some wine, grab a bite to eat and start to pack.
I don’t have years of experience camping. My love of it started just over a year ago and it only took one night under the stars and I was hooked. That being said, I definitely had to do my research as far as what I needed to buy and how to pack it. I turned to the internet and got my camping education via the school of YouTube. (Seriously, is there a tutorial you can’t find on that site?) After my studies and a lot of trial and error with gear I have a pretty good handle on what I need and what I bought that was a waste of money.
When I go camping, I go primitive camping. Usually with someone or a small group but I have gone alone. I’ll admit though I had to get over the “Walking Dead” fear of the outdoors the first couple of times but to be honest, rarely do I even come across any other people.
Primitive camping basically means that once you’ve reached your site, all you’d have is a fire pit of some sort and maybe, just maybe, a bench. Yep, that’s it. No restrooms, no water fountains, no grills and nothing covering you but the sky. I think you get the idea. There are however, beautiful plants and flowers, endless open fields of green and plenty of trees for putting up your hammock. Tents are great but tend to be heavy and when all you’re carrying with you is a backpack, you want it to be as light as possible, so I go with a hammock. It’s light weight, easy to set up and honestly, more comfortable than my own bed! Water is the most important thing you’re going to pack, it also happens to be the heaviest, so going light on other items is a great help.
By the time I’m done packing I’ve finished half the bottle of wine which works out well because I have a lightweight plastic flask which will hold the other half for tomorrow night under the stars.
I’m going to derail for a moment to tell you a little about me….While I wouldn’t call myself high maintenance, I am a woman who loves to primp. I take my time getting ready to go out whether I’m going to work, to a pub for drinks with friends or even running mundane errands. I like the process, makeup, hair, perfume, all the details are fun for me. I like being a woman. I’m 35 and still get to play dress up. So, if you haven’t picked up on this yet, I’m very girly. I might not me taking base or eye shadow but I will always have a little lip gloss, sunscreen and moisturizer, possible an eyebrow pencil just in case…
Now that that’s out of the way, being a “girly girl” doesn’t mean I don’t like getting my hands dirty, but I do carry some gardening gloves. Once I reach the campsite, one of the first things I do is look to get to know my surroundings and collect some firewood as I go. I check the ground to be wary of any little biting friends that I might need to avoid and try to see in which direction the sun will rise so I can hang my hammock appropriately.
I’m not a big cook but sometimes I’ll bring a small piece of steak and some instant noodles. The steak is usually from the freezer and thaws out by the time I’m ready for dinner. After dinner as I drink the other half of the bottle of wine I get used to the neighborhood noise of owls and insects as I watch the stars. I do have an ebook reader on my phone if I feel so inclined.
If I’ve set up the hammock correctly to block the sun I can usually sleep in until 7 or 8am and then leisurely make a cup a coffee as I toast a bagel on the fire. I usually wait until the dew has dried and my sleeping bag has aired out before I think about packing up.
Let me just point out a few things to consider here ladies, bring your necessities and get over your toilet fears. I’ll be the first to admit, I was a little uncomfortable using the bushes to do my business, but aft
er a few times you realize it’s no big deal your body wasn’t really designed to use a toilet anyway. Just bring wipes and you’ll be fine. Another thing is I also make sure I bring usable mirror just for peace of mind.
Just remember that if you are going with a group, being comfortable and having fun is the important thing. So many of us women are self-conscience when we really have no reason to be. Pack what makes you feel good and what is going to be the most comfortable for you. We’re outside, getting dirty, having experiences and seeing some pretty incredible scenery. The trees surrounding you, the beautiful colors on the plants and flowers that mother nature so graciously laid out for us. That’s the important part. Oh, and of course don’t forget the stars…
By Stephanie McCoy