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? 😀
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.
Around the picnic table
Tied to the metal pole (view from the hammock)
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 tent
The hammock got set up right in front of here
Someone’s lost dog toy, my thumb, and a partial shot of the dam.
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
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??
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.
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.
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
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
And the rest here
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!!