Everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely cannot get along with nature. Like, I know we should appreciate it, but can’t we appreciate it say, behind a glass window of a cozy cafe? Can’t ‘hiking’ be a nice long walk along a paved road? Many friends want to convince me that traversing slippery hills and sleeping on the cold ground are ‘formative experiences’ that ‘build character’ – but as a very clumsy girl, in my head, I always retort: one fatal fall down a cliff, one encounter with a grizzly bear, and all the character you’ve built is gone and wasted.
Who knew that my recent weekend camping trip, my first overnight camping trip, would be actually pretty decent!
The evening 3-mile hike from the parking lot of Castle Rock Camp Site to the site itself was a little dangerous and made me feel panicky, especially after the sun set. Once we arrived, I was reassured by signs of other campers around our site, and we cooked a hearty, simple hamburger dinner on a portable grill, with jello and Asian snacks as dessert. Even though I was a little wary of dangerous wildlife (there were warnings for mountain lions and rattlesnakes) as well as the sharp drop in temperature during the night, I loved being with my friends in the midst of nature – with no service on our phones, we did not think about anything but basic necessities for survival: how to get the stove going, how to set up a tent (I just watched people set it up like a useless person, haha), how to ensure that no food attracts the mountain lions.
Not gonna lie, sleeping on the ground, hearing the freezing night wind howl around us was not pleasant. But, the next morning, hiking back to the parking lot really was invigorating. I was able to see a lot of breathtaking sites, and challenge myself physically as we climbed uphill for extended periods of time. We took turns changing who carried what and bonded that way as well, all in the hike together. In the 21st century, it is hard to come by that raw, genuine sensation of camaraderie.
The best part for me is that once I’ve been out in nature overnight, all the simplistic things make me so damn happy. Crawling into a bed that is warm and in an interior space, sitting in a cushioned chair, and changing out of dirty clothes become privileges rather than things I took for granted. Yes, being in nature itself is great, but realizing the comforts of our everyday lives is what made this trip worthwhile for me. Just waking up in the morning safe and sound – it made me feel so content.
Any nature-lovers out there? Comment below with why you enjoy camping and hiking!