Camping – done

Sadly, I abandoned camp again. I was attacked by bugs again. It was either tent or bug net world. I chose the car. It was the right move. I now have more then double the bites I started with. I think I just have to keep the camping to the mountains from now on.

I’m even cancelling the camping at Lake Waccamaw. It’s just not worth the risk for me.

I still wanted to show you my camp set up. It was pretty good! Even if it only lasted 24 hours

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Camping – the end?

As I lay here in a bug net in my hammock, listening to the bugs bang against the net and each other trying to bite the tastiness that is me, I wonder if it’s worth it to stay. I have no where to eat dinner comfortably. The bugs will get me. I’m not feeling another hike while fighting off the bugs. If I don’t hike, I’ll have to come back later this year – not a short drive. What to do, what to do.

Camping – as it happens

I’m sitting in my tent listening to the wind blow the trees and the thunder rumble and I had a thought. I actually have data access, why not write some posts as the camping adventure happens!!

I got started a little late this morning, so I had to forgo breakfast. It was probably a good thing considering this was my lunch

So good. Nothing like food in little hole in the wall restaurants. It took a long time to get, but those potatoes? Lumpy just like I make. The hush puppies? Actually had the taste of corn to them. Probably not the best pre-hiking meal, though. Oh well! Good thing the hikes this weekend are all easy.

Unfortunately, I got bug mobbed again on my hike. I’m not sure if the pants I chose were sprayed with bug repellant or not. I got one bite in my leg during the short 40 minute hike. The good thing is that I saw a group of deer eating in the park. I’m hoping I got a few good pics.

I made it safe and sound to the next park and set up camp. Lounging in the hammock, I realized I was getting swarmed again and put up the bug net. To my surprise, it worked. Sadly, I had two more bug bites. I ate a dinner of boring salad and made my way into the tent. I am now laying on my new air mattress with my new camp pillow listening to the rain pitter patter on the tarp and all the rain flys (flies?). I’m so glad I have the camp pillow. I’m so sweaty that a normal pillow would have stayed wet all weekend.

I have my new sleeping bag here, but I haven’t unpacked it yet. Just a sheet and blanket from home for now.

Tomorrow, I’m heading to the coast to check out a park there. The weather will be nice and dry. I’ll try to remember to take pics for tomorrow’s post.

I hope you’ll enjoy my camping live posts!!

South Mountain Camping

Remember the last time I went camping?  This was the mountain I headed to instead of the correct one.  This time, I headed to the RIGHT mountain the first time!

I did a couple of things differently this trip.  First, I cut down on the complexity of my meals.  It’s a lot of effort and it’s usually raining, so I have to take back up food, too.  I figured I would try out some pre made backpacking meals and some of my own concoctions.  Simple food means simple kitchen box. It ended up being about half the size.  I topped it off with a list of the contents on top.  It makes packing back up so much easier.

Oh!  See that red case there?  It used to be a first aid kit that I carried in my hiking pack.  It took up too much room, so I transferred everything to a waterproof makeup bag that I don’t use anymore.  I kept the case because there had to be SOMETHING I could use it for (honestly, I think camping is turning me into a hoarder).   It turned out to be a perfect container for some odds and ends!  I’ve got pills (which I decided needed to be in my tent with me), wipes, drink mix, salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil, tea ball, and some loose tea.  Cool, huh? 😀DSC_0004

I loaded up the car and three hours later I was checking in.  The lady at the information desk told me this was one of the most coveted sites in the park. Seeing the pictures online, I had hoped it would hold up to expectations. It did. Right at the back of the site is a small river.  I think it was the James Fork River. Lots of trees around, but oddly, not in good spots for camp building. I made it work, though.

Under the log.  Don’t worry, there’s a tent stake behind there.Log tether

Around the picnic table
Table tether

Tied to the metal pole (view from the hammock)
Other tether

I got my camp set up and a very late lunch cooked just in time for rain which seems to be the norm for me. The walk from the car is not as far as it would seem – it was listed as 125 feet. The entire grounds actually seem very small and cramped. I think I did get the best site, though.

Full set up – the hammock is behind the tentSetup

The hammock got set up right in front of here
River ViewSomeone’s lost dog toy, my thumb, and a partial shot of the dam.River View

After my experience by the water at Pettigrew, I did have concerns with bugs. It was too early to tell if they would be a problem or not. I just kept thinking about how long ago I had sprayed my gear. That it all needed to be sprayed again. Especially with all the rain it’s been under. Luckily, I didn’t get eaten alive!

My first meal was a simple one. Cream of chicken soup, canned chicken, and a single serving of “canned” corn (it was a single serving in a plastic bowl). I dumped it in the pot with a can full of water and heated it up. While I did use the corn water, I couldn’t bring myself to use the chicken water. I just dumped it in the trash bag. Don’t dump it on the ground! Bugs and animals would probably love that stuff. You, would not love the visitors. Plus the leave no trace guidelines apply to food, too

Obligatory stove/fire shot
Lunch 1

I added a little pepper, too.  It was DELICIOUS.  Do you know, I had someone think I was weird for eating cream of chicken soup??Lunch 1

For dinner, I tried my first ready made meal.

This one wasn’t dehydrated.  It was an all in one package that cooked the food and everything.  It was pretty tasty.

Omeal stew

Not a lot of food, though.  If I was a proper backpacker, this would in NO WAY be enough food.  Plus, all the waste was just horrible.

The heating element stayed hot for a very long time, basically until all the water was gone.  So, if you add too much, it can go on quite a while.  The idea is a good one, but using a silver pouch with no way to pull it out safely caused a bit of an issue.  I had to use a handkerchief to get it out of the boiling packet.

Omeal stew

I also had to put it in the pot to eat it.  There is just simply no way to hold the hot pouch.  The only way I could see buying these again would be for emergencies.  Since any liquid can be used to activate the heating element, I could see it being perfect if the power went out because of weather or something.

I really wanted to try to sleep in the hammock. It is so cool laying there, but the idea of bugs was too much to bear, so into the tent I slinked. Huge bugs started flying around the top mesh as soon as I lay down. This is why I get in the tent. Oddly, changing my headlamp color to red seems to calm them down.

Breakfast the first morning was dehydrated eggs.  They are not good.  I think I messed up making them, though.  Some bits were still dehydrated and there was copious amounts of water left behind.  Even if it was completely cooked, all I could taste was the bacon.  It was overwhelming.  I don’t know if I would buy it again.

Of course I went hiking.  I, stupidly, didn’t go to the water falls.  By the time I got back from the hike I did do, it was SO busy there.  I guess with all the river access, it’s a popular place in the summer.  To be honest, the smell of the river made be cringe to think of all those people splashing around in it.  Ech.  This is as close as I got

DSC_0173

For lunch, I had a sandwich on the trail.  I know you’re supposed to eat small snacks through out the entire hike, but I don’t like doing that.  I like to sit, eat, move on.

I ate half of it here
Sandwich

And the rest here
DSC_0159

For dinner, there was another of my soup concoctions.  Dried broccoli from Trader Joe’s, Bear Creek broccoli cheese soup mix, and canned chicken.  Another win for the home team 😀  I did rehydrate the broccoli with some boiling water, then just dumped it all in the soup.

 

The dam pictured above was crazy loud at night. All you could hear was the river. No way to stop and listen to see if an unknown animal was getting into the tent. It was creepier the second night because almost everyone left. I had no people around me. Either the wind made the tent vent flap at my back or something was trying to get in. I have no idea. I didn’t look. Too scared. I didn’t see any evidence of animals the next morning, so it was probably the wind. It didn’t help that you could hear the horses from the equestrian camp grounds. The sound brought to mind a particular horror story I read about a horse head. *shudder* When I first heard them, I thought it was kids screaming. Nope. Horses.

This park has a check out time of noon, so there really wasn’t a lot of down time.  I made another one of the Omeals.  It was oatmeal.  Same problems as above.  I didn’t take pictures because it’s oatmeal.  It tasted like oatmeal.  I still don’t like oatmeal, apparently.

After breakfast, I broke down camp.  This is starting to get faster the more I do it.  I finally got a brush for the tarps and was able to use it to clean them off as I folded them up.  Much cleaner and I could fit them back into the container unlike previous trips.  I relaxed on the hammock a bit, then headed out.  I had to skip lunch because the second sandwich I made had mold on it already.  Note to self, the buns from Trader Joe’s don’t last a week.

All in all, I think it was a good trip.  Another one is coming up this weekend!!

Some conclusions from this trip:

1 – I like having a simpler kitchen box and menu.  I am going to continue trying to keep it simple, but still tasty.  I like my grill, but I think it’s a bit much for just me camping.  When it gets cold enough for fires, I’ll be able to cook more complex things there.

2 – I need to do something about my sleep set up.  The sleeping pad just isn’t working.  If I put enough air in it for my shoulder and feet, then my hips are too high.  If I take out enough air for my hips, then my shoulder and feet are too high and my hips are hitting the ground.  I haven’t been comfortable any camp nights.  I decided to accept the fact that I am car camping and buy a portable air mattress.  I am also going to replace the mummy sleeping bag with a regular one.  Being a left side sleeper with a right side zip means my booty is hanging out if I don’t zip it up all the way.  It feels very vulnerable that way.  Especially when creepy things happen right there at night.

3 – One thing they don’t tell you?  Everything is damp when you camp.  EVERYTHING.  Even if it isn’t raining, there’s still the dew in the morning.  Since the tent has mesh for vents, the moisture gets in that way.  It started concerning me this trip when I realized how damp my pillow was getting.  I have no way to wash my pillows like I do with everything else.  I decided to buy a camp pillow, too.

Hopefully these posts are helping someone out there 🙂  If there’s anything specific you want to know about, tell me and I will see what I can do!!

Stone Mountain Camping

Finally!  I finally have a camping trip under my belt where I stayed for the entire allotted time!!  UNFORTUNATELY, it still rained.  I think I may just be cursed to be a rainy camper.  Is that better?  Tell me it’s better 😥

I had plenty of time to set up camp. I had my hammock with rainfly, tent, and a shelter that I put a chair under.

Campsite
Campsite 1

Campsite from the other end
Campsite 2

Camp set up with shelter
Set up withno chair

Chair and table addedClean set up

It seemed to work initially, but then I was sitting in the chair after the rain started and my head was touching the tarp. Something happened, but I don’t know what. I ended up putting a trekking pole under to hold it up (bad cell photo below). It worked well enough.

Tracking pole

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stake my tent. There were rocks everywhere in the tent pad area. I don’t know who thought that was a good idea, but I bent a fucking stake trying to get it in. I finally gave up, threw my shit in and crossed my fingers. It stayed put, so that was good.

I was able to cook Saturday evening. I skewered some mini potatoes and onions for a side.  Some asparagus to be cooked in a ceramic skillet that I bought to use instead of the mini skillet.  I figure this would be better for cooking things like eggs.  I didn’t want normal non-stick just because of the high temperatures I would be cooking over.

Getting ready to cook
Dinner 1

Everything on the grill: Kielbasa, Asparagus, and a potato and mini onion skewer
Add asparagus

Dinner is served
Dinner served

Just as I was finishing eating, the rain came in. I was able to hang out in my chair and in my hammock. The only problem was I always underestimate how cold it is going to be. The hammock is REALLY cold. the good news is that I really didn’t get too wet.  With the hammock and the shelter so close to each other, it was really easy to move from one to the other

For breakfast, I had some extra egg salad leftover from the week.  Instead of cooking, I decided to just bring that.  I was afraid it would go bad before I got back.  You don’t want to take any chances with eggs!  The thing is, I think I prefer hot breakfasts.  Now, I know.  No big deal.

The next day, I did a small hike to the summit of Stone Mountain. I was warned by a friend that the rocks can get very slippery in the rain. He said not to try to hike in the rain. Since I had NO service, I had no idea what the weather was going to be. I risked it and headed out around 10am. I could see why it would be bad to get caught there in the rain.

At the summit, some idiot broke a tree branch to hang a flag, basically ruining the view.  I didn’t stay there long because it pissed me off how many people saw it and said “Cool”.  I went to a lower outlook that I preferred.  I like sandwiches when I hike, so I hung out here and ate my sandwich.

Favorite spot

I did see a storm coming in, so I went back the way I came instead of completing the loop.  Torrential downpour started as I pulled into my campsite.

I started getting a migraine, but forgot to bring my meds with me.  I accepted having to just deal when I said WTF? I can run to the store.  I fumbled around trying to find a signal so I could get maps to find a place for pills.  I finally got it, grabbed some Excedrin PM and hustled it back to the site before the gates locked.  This marks the first time I actually left to take care of something like that.  At Hanging Rock, I just kind of suffered through.  Not fun and unnecessary.  It was much more pleasant after taking the pills, but I didn’t feel like cooking what I had planned and it was still raining.  I decided to just make some soup on the camp stove.  It was tasty AND fun!

Fire stove

Monday was when I was leaving.  My friend had texted me the forecast the day before (I had ZERO cell service except for texting) and it was supposed to rain at noon.  I left 8ish to go see a waterfall.  I came back and proceeded to clean up everything but the hammock.  I didn’t feel like racing the rain to grill, so I had a snack instead and McDonald’s (SHAME) on the way home.  Apparently the forecast changed and I could’ve cooked with no problem.

Hammock sitting
Last view

My next camping trip is coming up next weekend (since I was lazy and waited so long to write this post) and my food is going to be wildly different.  There’s a short walk from the car to the camp site, so I am using it as an excuse to try some backpacking type food.  That means no grill, just the camp stove, and food rehydrated with water (and some back up soups.  Cause soup is awesome).  I mean, why not!  I want to make some food myself.  It’s so much cheaper if you can.  I am also buying some pre-made stuff because I’m curious.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even like the oatmeal!!  I’ve got to hit some REIs in the area to see what they have.  I mean, I’ll have a whole weekish to prepare, I should be fine right?  RIGHT?!?! 😯

 

Death to the Winged Bitey Creatures of EVIL

As you may have guessed from my last post, I attract bugs like a magnet. I thought I wouldn’t stop me from hiking. I read the labels on the lotion I had, but it can’t be used under clothing. Since I got bit THROUGH my clothing, that wasn’t an option. I went to REI and got some advice. Picaridin spray could be used over the clothing and still had the same effectiveness of 100% Deet spray without all the bothersome melting of plastics and stuff. The helpful staff also told me to spray my clothes (BEFORE wearing!) with premethrin. Now, I was aware of the option – I used it on all my gear. My concern was the fact that my hiking clothes and workout clothes came from the same pile. He assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem He said he used it on his army clothes in the desert. Good enough for me!

I tried picaridin spray first, but I must’ve missed some spots because I still ended up with like 5 bug bites. Medoc Mountain State Park was not kind to me that day. I was miserable because I was basically being swarmed by bugs. Imagine Pig Pen from Charlie Brown, but instead of dirt? Bugs. Bugs in my ears. Bugs in my eyes. Bugs IN MY MOUTH! 😡 Needless to say, I didn’t do as much hiking as I wanted that day. The best part was getting my stamp and chatting with the gentleman that worked inside

Next, I sprayed my pants, shirt, and socks with premethrin a couple days before my hike. I also supplemented with picaridin lotion on the exposed skin. Morrow Mountain State Park was a MUCH happier day. There wasn’t a bug around me the entire time. It was the premethrin or the fact that there were no bugs in the entire park. I’m leaning to the premethrin. I still heard some buzzing around, but they didn’t stay long.

I am hoping that my luck holds out when I go camping this weekend. Yep, again. Third time’s the charm, right?

Here’s some pics from Medoc mountain. I was playing with a new toy I got for my camera. It’s called an achromat. It’s a cheaper way to get macro photos than buying a whole lens. It’s basically to hold me off from buying a third lens

And no, there’s no one else in this picture. Creepy.

Rocks

Mushroom

Forest

Hope this helps someone! I’ll be back to post my success and/or failures from the camping trip this weekend 😀

Camping fail #2

Whelp, another camping fail under the belt. At this rate, I’ll be an expert at what NOT to do soon. 🙂 It’s all part of the adventure, right? Well, two good things happened. I got to set up my hammock with the rain fly and I got to use my stove!

I’m telling you. Sitting in that hammock in the rain was the most relaxed I have been in a LONG time. In fact, I am looking for a place to hang my hammock without having to camp. I may have found a place! I’ll report back

Here’s my set up at Pettigrew State Park

All set up

During the rain – it was POURING

River

After the rain – I think this set up has the rain fly a little higher

After the rain

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the rain that drove me out. It was the bugs. I was getting bit through 3ish layers of 30% DEET spray. AND through my clothes! I ended up with 11 bites before I left. If I had a bug net for my hammock, I may have stayed. Since I didn’t, I knew it was only going to get worse at night. Who knows how many bites I would’ve ended up with

Before making the decision, I made some dinner! I boiled some water to cook some bulgur and reheated some chicken and broccoli from home. It worked out well, just lacking in flavor a little bit. I forgot the soup base for the bulgur water.

Pettigrew

In addition to forgetting the soup base, I forgot the following

  • Butter for cooking
  • Clothes to sleep in
  • Extra clothes for sweat relief
  • Tent (pure laziness)
  • Chair to sit in
  • The non-deet bug spray alternative
  • A bottle of water to use with my NUUN
  • Drink coozie
  • Cooking utensil
  • The big stove
  • ALMOST forgot my hiking shoes

Not a lot of things, just essential ones. I am pretty sure there was more, but I can’t remember, so they must not have been important, right? Basically, I need to prepare instead of packing the morning of the trip. It should be an obvious thing, but not for me! Well, the next trip isn’t until close to the end of July. This will be to the mountains, so the bugs should be better. I hope the rain will hold off, but as long as I can get my hammock and rain fly set up.

Until then, the hiking and passport stamps continue!!