Top 12 Rules to Good Time Camping: 7 – 12


Shadow in Sepia, Yellowstone National Park

Shadow in Sepia, Yellowstone National Park

The Top 12 Rules to Good Time Camping…

 

Part 2! If you didn’t already, check out Part 1 for the first 6 “rules” and some good photos…I fell in love with my sepia filter a little. Shoot me.

Without further ado…


It's a Rule: You Can't Prove Your Boots Are Waterproof Unless You Stand in a Lake

It's a Rule: You Can't Prove Your Boots Are Waterproof Unless You Stand in a Lake

 

7. Personal style often becomes very questionable while hiking.

This is both a good and a bad thing depending on your perspective, and everyone has there quirks, from the kitted-out gear-heads to the scrubby naturalists whose equipment (and facial hair) dates back to the 70s. Some are for form following function, while others see it the other way around. I, for example, am partial to tucking my pants into the tops of my boots French legionnaire style, making it look like I’m paratrooping in behind enemy lines at a North Face outlet store. Functional? Yes. Comical? Probably.

Style only becomes a problem when one is literally weighed down by the sheer gravity of their fashion choices. This means you, purple bandanna wearer! You can’t hike with that iridescent bird turd magnet strapped to your forehead. You just can’t.

Hikers from a certain Central Asian country (*cough* South Korea) are known to take it a step further. It seems they’re not even able to leave the house for a day hike without poles, boots, hydration packs, visors, and a wide range of technical fabrics. Due to their culinary culture, South Koreans also need to pack about 50 tupperware containers of kimchi, seaweed, daikon root, fish parts, and the like, per person. Strangely, all of this extraneous hiking gear is also a problem for people from Colorado, except for the fish parts.

Both South Korea and Colorado are great areas for hiking (although the high comedy of seeing Koreans ready to scale Everest taking the subway to their hiking destination is really non pareil), and as long as hikers from those regions stick with a few simple rules–keep fannypacks to a minimum; always over pack warm clothes for the hands, feet and head; rain proof clothing is expensive and worth it–their usually overabundant sense of style should not interfere others’ enjoyment of an otherwise pure, untainted nature experience.

 

Mount Rainier probably looks scary because you're so high!

Mount Rainier probably looks scary because you're so high!

 

8. You really do get high in the mountains, and it’s not just the altitude…or the edible mushrooms.

That thing people talk about – that feeling – really happens. Call it the physical exertion, the sleep deprivation, or even the attempt to survive for weeks fed solely on energy gels and trail mix, but you actually do feel high on a good hike.

I recall one rainy day spent hiking in a spiffy pair of Gore-Tex® boots (see picture above), my dry feet wrapped in fabrics still technically illegal in some countries. I had bought these boots one indulgent day in Korea with a fellow teacher, and I spent my hike reminiscing, each step a reminder of the wild, circuitous route a life can take, and the connections we inevitably make along the way. They’re just boots, but in that moment, they were my connection to him.

Uh oh. I feel a quasi-philosophical tangent coming:

Through the ages, from the ancient shaman mystics through to the pimply high school outcast, people have used drugs to reawaken the part of their consciousness that feels connected to a part of humanity greater than themselves. It’s the Door(s) of Perception, the Huckabee ? blanket, the Vibration of Life – it’s a sense that there are other humans around us, all of the time, who are willing to help us get through life safely and happily. They give us directions when we are lost and water when we are thirsty. And the way we stoke these connections, literally thousands over a lifetime, can build upon itself, so that lost in thought on a mountain trail, a flow of agape literally tears through the breastbone, exiting the heart with such force that…

Whoa. What happened there? I blacked out for a sec.

 

Trees and Mist, Mount Rainier National Park

Trees and Mist, Mount Rainier National Park

 

9. Good trail mix takes time.

It always tastes better after the flavors have had time to work themselves together. So, apparently the best thing to do is…(nota bene: the following sentence will sound a lot funnier if you adopt the voice of Bricktop from Snatch)…acquire your nuts no less than 6 months in advance, and promptly mix with raisins and seeds, salubriously avoiding such saccharine pitfalls as chocolate and yogurt, until the results taste like butter. The same is true with chili, so be wary of any man who keeps a chili farm. Whatever that is.

Just for the record, be wary of chili in general. Don’t attempt to survive for any period of time strictly on it alone. This is one of the finest pieces of advice that I can pass on, and could save your life one day, much like bear spray or emergency oxygen.

See, if you make it like I do, you like to try to add little tasty things as you go along (fried tofu, pepper, etc.), but eventually realize you need to go back to your bases (tomatoes, beans, etc.) for balance, ending up with a 3 family portion when you’re done. Well be careful with that much chili, my friend. A metaphor:

Imagine the generations of Sioux Indians as they recalled the Battle of Little Bighorn in hushed, lachrymose tones, their lips quivering, their eyes lowered. Their people had been decimated; their hope all but gone. This is how I recall the Great Chili Massacre of 2009. I don’t really want to talk about it, but let’s just say that we went to bed lively, strapping youth, and woke up scarred, our tent flaps singed, our once young lungs transformed to those of black-blooded miners.

The tent smelled like poo.

So, don’t eat chili for four straight days and go camping. Eat trail mix instead : )

 

Steam Rising, Yellowstone National Park

Steam Rising, Yellowstone National Park


10. Early to bed, early to Paul Riser…or something.

I have always loathed people that describe themselves as “early risers,” but they are good people to go camping with. These are the jerks who say that they “just can’t sleep after 9AM” in the same aggrieved voice they would use to tell you that they acquired some curse in childhood forcing them to go through life without the proper use of their extremities, or something. Screw you, jerks! The world already works on your clock, and now you want me to feel sympathy for you because once in a while you wake up and you’re tired?

Welcome to my life, jerks. I go to bed late and have to wake up to your alarm. And I hate you.

Obviously, it is totally acceptable to dismiss most Early Risers (or Morning Boners, as I’d prefer to call them) out of hand as go-getters, social-climbers, and men trying to fight off the onset of premature baldness through endless games of AM racquetball. However, in a camping setting, they can prove very useful.

Many animals, including the sun, seem to do their best work in the morning. Birds, especially, like to make interesting noises when it’s early. There’s a certain quality to looking out over a lake as the steam of a new day rises. As the trees stretch, white blades of light cutting into all nature, you will think to yourself, “It’s 5:48 AM, and I have an entire day of majestic beauty ahead of me. I think I’ll go start digging a hole so I can bury my morning shit.”

 

 

Purple Clouds, Mount Rainier National Park

Purple Clouds, Mount Rainier National Park

 

11. Ahh. And deuce you will.

Nothing is more distressing to the  human gastrointestinal tract than having to fold over itself during a 12 hour car ride. Follow this with a night sleeping on dirt, your innards marinating inside a 120º sleeping bag, and six to eight hours of body-shockingly strenuous physical activity the next day, at altitude. By the time this is done, your compacted food waste will be more anxious to escape than Elián González.

And then, all of the sudden, it will be seven days later with no sign of Yertle the Turtle, and you’ll begin to worry.

Now you may find this sophomoric (but seriously, if you’re still reading at this point, consider it the mark of your lifetime ban from Polite Society), but I remember going to basketball camp around the age of 12 or 13. After a few days of putting our new found pubic hairs on each other’s toothbrushes, we got bored, and moved on to talking about bowel movements.

We realized that amidst all the suicides and wind sprints, none of us had gone to the bathroom for three days. This was insanely interesting to the 12 year old male psyche, and we instantly decided that we should bet on who could hold out the longest. Six days in of a week long camp, and a surprising number in our cabin were still going “strong”. But as the hot dogs and soda piled up, we began dropping like flies, every few hours to the latrine, one by one.

Sunday: the camp’s last day. Only me and one other kid left. Our eyes were locked in steely gaze, a real Old West style shoot out, only we weren’t firing off guns (or much of anything for that matter). By lunch, I could see the sweat poring down his face, and I knew it was only a matter of time. The first wave of minivans arrived, ready to ferry their children back home after a successful week of foul shots and dribbling drills. We sat perched outside the Port-o-Johns. Subarus, little sisters, golden retrievers. As dusk set in, we were basically immobalized, hardly able to breathe for fear of disrupting our delicate sphincter stasis. The week was almost complete, and we would have ended in a tie.

But he couldn’t take it. He waddled into the pot, his insides surely heaving, and unleashed all manner of hell on that poor, plastic receptacle. As my dad’s station wagon pulled up in the distance, I could see my parents walking over to greet me, my mom smiling and waving. My underwear unstained, tears of joy streamed down my face. And then I spontaneously combusted.

Did I mention I didn’t make the camp’s All-Star team?

 

Stream, Snow, and Sticks, Mount Rainier National Park

Stream, Snow, and Sticks, Mount Rainier National Park

 

12. Despite their romantic history as heroes of the American West, buffalo constantly look as though they are under extreme medication. So, don’t mess with them.

In fact, I wonder if this is true. Are buffalo medicated? Perhaps its a secret plot by Park Rangers to control population or something. I mean, we keep pandas alive, despite the fact they refuse to reproduce by themselves and are basically the most evolutionarily useless animal. It’s like they evolved into the cute girl at the bar who can’t hold a job, but knows that if she bats her eyes and uses the sad face she can get free drinks and manicures. So, I mean, it’s possible with the buffalo, right?

What’s the rule you’re supposed to take from this? Um, I guess the rule is, go camping, and don’t take my advice! It’s useless!

More free photos:

 

Dark Mountain, Mount Rainier National Park

Dark Mountain, Mount Rainier National Park

Sepia Stream, Mount Rainier National Park

Sepia Stream, Mount Rainier National Park

Brown Trees #1, Mount Rainier National Park

Brown Trees #1, Mount Rainier National Park

Brown Trees #2, Mount Rainier National Park

Brown Trees #2, Mount Rainier National Park

The Scary Civic, Mount Rainier National Park

The Scary Civic, Mount Rainier National Park

5 Responses to “Top 12 Rules to Good Time Camping: 7 – 12”


  • Love “Trees and Mist, Mount Rainier National Park” — deep rich tones.

  • beautiful blackout you had there. But golden retriever…hmm was that stalwart young second-placer, the great McGrinch? Nah couldn’t be, but I’m so bad with dogs. And why no fond recollection of red rover red rover, send jordy over? Also, was the guy at the snack stand really named Beavis? So many questions, how little we know, but it is so great in its magnificent vastness!

  • @Katherine Thanks! I am a known sucker for compliments. I’ll get back to your email about Flickr soon, promise.

    @Jesse Thanks for sharing clearly the most obfuscating comment this website will ever have. To answer your questions: no, most of that scene is imagined, I think; MalachiMcGrinch = Irish Wolf Hound; Kids are cruel; Yes.

    Such magniloquent vastness!

  • Poo obsession aside, some of these camping rules might actually help someone some day. I can’t see it being anyone more adept than an 8 year old brownie scout from Harlem that gets lost at summer camp on her way back from arts and crafts, but that’s a start, Jord!

  • @Jon It’s entirely possible I got a little carried away with that poo story. Fun to recount, indulgent to write, perhaps not so great to read. I think the point of the two “Rules” pieces was to take my life at the time, add some humor, and find a format that would be easily readable. I’m not sure if I really meant them to be all that helpful. Also, I really wanted to share some of the photos I had been taking that I was hot on (you can click on them to make them bigger, if that wasn’t obvious). Either way, I really appreciate you digging back and reading some of the older stuff. More new stuff soon!

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