Into the Woods

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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick
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    says:

    For a city boy like me, camping is about the stars. All the rest of it is pretty awesome, too, but that night sky is the Universe, and you just don’t see that in the city.Report

  2. Avatar George Turner
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    says:

    Two years ago in the early spring I went to Great Saltpeter cave with my house mate and a bunch of his fellow geology students. As a caver, I have often camped down at the cave, but I hadn’t done it in many years and had purged a lot of my older camping supplies. I knew I was short on a sleeping bag and tent, so I scored a Marlboro sleeping bag at the Salvation Army for about $10 dollars and then picked up the cheapest tent at Walmart. It was supposed to get very cold that night, so as a precaution I tossed an electric space heater in the car, since the campground has electric hookups.

    The first thing that went wrong was that my group didn’t set up next to an outlet, so the space heater was useless. The next thing that went wrong was that we all drank way too much and stayed up too late by the big roaring fire next to the field kitchen. The third thing that went wrong was that I was one of the last to turn in. The fourth thing that went wrong was that the zipper on the cheap Walmart tent jammed while the flap was wide open. Then I realized that the Salvation Army sleeping bag was not meant for cold weather.

    So it was 20 F degrees outside, windy, I’m drunk, and laying in my tent staring out at the stars through the giant open flap, shivering my nuts off. Then a gorgeous blonde geology student wandered over, poked her head in like and angel, and gave me an extra blanket, which at least kept me from dying in the night. Because of the extreme cold I tossed and turned to keep warm and didn’t sleep a wink, so by morning I was frozen, tired, massively hungover, and slated to go on a caving trip with about thirty people.

    Getting to the cave involved a long, long walk along railroad tracks in the wind, which was extremely unpleasant. Then about a quarter or half mile into the cave I became extremely nauseous and sweaty, realized I just was not up for a caving trip, and crawled back to the entrance alone. Every step along the train tracks back to the cars was torture, and all I could think of was crawling into one of the passenger seats and taking a nap. Half an hour later I found out all the cars were locked, so I had to lay in a ditch to avoid the worst of the cold and wind, spending three or four hours trying and failing to get to sleep while waiting for everyone to return to the surface. Then we returned to Great Saltpeter campground, packed up our tents, and drove home.

    Compared to camping with me, Gitmo is Disneyland.Report

  3. Avatar Aidian Holder
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    says:

    Dude, you’re like one step away from this guy:

    Report

  4. Avatar Kimmi
    Ignored
    says:

    Mike,
    Your scoutmaster was an idiot. I read what you’re talking about, and I see the very real potential for him to have killed a scout or two.

    Maybe this is because I know a friend whose first “big hiking trip” included staring at someone who had frozen to death (rule one about being deep in the woods: do not wear cotton. also, fire-starting gear is safety gear).Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    Have a great time on your trip.

    Spring is definitely about camping. But rafting as well. The wife and I and four others are heading out tomorrow for a 7 day raft trip thru one of the most glorious places on earth: Desolation Canyon Utah USA. Camping, cooking, hiking, RAFTING!, stars, beers… Thinking about Spring rafting is what gets me thru the dark doldrums of mid-winter.

    And I agree about comfort. For me, it’s increasingly about comfort. Rafting is very similar to car-camping: you can bring all sorts of stuff along. Nowadays, I sleep on a big fat 2.5 inch air mattress. Back in the good old days it was the 1/4 inch foam pad. Now, comfortable camp chairs, back then we sat on rocket boxes. It gets better every year.Report

  6. Avatar dexter
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    says:

    Stillwater, If envy wasn’t one of the seven deadly sins I would be greener than a four leaf clover on St. Pat’s day. The wife and I have camped in Canyonlands and Needles with a day raft trip above Moab and really wanted to get down into those ravines. That is some truly beautiful country.
    Have the spring run offs started. The year we took the raft trip was in the middle of a drought and our joke about the trip is that we went brown water rafting.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to dexter
      Ignored
      says:

      Moab is a gift from God, eh? One of the most special places on this earth. Between biking and boating I’ve spent a fair bit of time there. For part of a summer I rafted commercially on that stretch above Moab. It was a non-profit outfit that specialized in taking disabled folks down river. I took a full quadriplegic down that stretch. We strapped him into the boat, and his head to a backboard so he could see the country he was floating thru. Nerve-wracking for me, but it was the time of his life. Anyway….

      I don’t think the run-off has started yet, but we’ve had tons of precip over the last week here in Colorado, so some of that might come downstream while we’re on the trip. The stretch we’re floating is the Green river. The putin just below Vernal and the takout is just above the town of Green River. 84 miles of Desolation. And beautiful canyons.

      Do you live near Utah? Have you boated anywhere else?Report

  7. Avatar dexter
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    says:

    No, I live on the edge of a small town just north of Baton Rouge, but most summers the wife and I spend a couple of weeks camping and sitting in hot springs in the national forests of Colorado or New Mexico. I came of age in Boulder and have to get back to the mountains ever so often or I go crazier than normal.Report

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