Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gone Camping: Volume 1

Even though I'm sure I went camping as a kid, and I've gone on cabin trips as a young adult, the camping trip I took this weekend didn't quite feel the same. This time, there was no electricity to light my room or parents to take care of me. Just myself, my boyfriend Ben, my friends––Shannan and Ben W., and a car-full of camping supplies and food. For me, the trip was an experience that made me think about all the responsibilities we take for granted in the modern. We were forced to deal with things that our daily lives generally let us ignore––the dark, the cold, bugs, dirt, and the worst creatures on the face of the earth and raccoons. All of that self-reliance, plus the copious amounts of meat I ate this weekend, helped feel just a little more in touch with my deeply-hidden, inner Ron Swanson.

But...maybe I'm being a little bit hyperbolic here. We only went to Mount Diablo, which is so close to home that we barely had to leave the county. Plus, we had what some would consider a pretty cushy campsite. Basic amenities––running water, bathrooms, showers––were all provided. My car was nearby. Hell, my phone was even fully functional and internet-ready the entire trip. Comforts aside, the 2500-foot elevation and the complete change in landscape still made it feel like we were escaping the hustle–and–bustle of city life. And as an inexperienced camper, the Juniper Campground at Mount Diablo provided just the right amount of discomfort to make the trip exciting, but not enough to make me feel overly uneasy. Though our trip wasn't incredibly eventful––really all we did was set up and take down, hike, and eat––everything we did seemed like an adventure, simply because we were camping.

Here's a little breakdown of what happened this weekend:

Friday Evening: 

We reached our campsite after a windy, uphill drive, and found a nice little spot within the Juniper Campground to set up our home for the weekend. I was so excited to be there––even little tasks like taking the food out of the car or connecting tent-poles––seemed exciting. We raced the sun, trying to put up our tent, unpack our supplies and make dinner, while we still had daylight.

Unfortunately, because of the high fire risk, we weren't able to have a wood fire at our campsite, but Ben got a charcoal fire going, so that we satiate our voracious appetites. (He earned himself the moniker "Mountain Man" in the process). For the first night, we planned on having a typical camping meal of hot-dogs with some BBQ corn on the side. While dinner was roasting over the fire-pit, I headed out to the parking lot near our campsite to catch a view of the sunset. On my way back, I caught a glimpse of my first (of many) raccoons of the weekend, devouring food left on the table of our neighboring campsite. Anyways, when I returned, dinner was almost ready and soon enough, I stuffed my face full of hot dogs, corn and snacks. We ended the night, of course, by making plans for the next day over everyone's favorite camping dessert––s'mores. With a tough drive behind us and a long hike ahead of us, we decided to call it an early night.

Saturday Morning/Afternoon: 

After getting ready for the day, we had a hearty breakfast consisting of hard-boiled eggs, left-over hot-dogs, and fruit to prepare for the long hike to the summit of Mount Diablo. Soon after, we hit the trails and hiked the 1500 feet up the mountain, stopping here and there to catch our breath, to take a water break, to snap a photo. By the time we got to the lower part of the summit, we were wiped out and decided to take a little break to refuel with water, trail mix, apples, and CLIF bars.

Once we had gathered up enough energy again, we climbed the last 500 feet to the top of the summit. When we got there, we checked out the small visitors' center (why not?) and looked out at the stunning views from the observation deck. There was a picturesque panorama of rolling hills below a blue sky speckled with long white clouds. Though it was a tough hike for four out-of-shape friends, it was worth it for the beautiful views we got to see. (And, also for bragging rights.)

Stay tuned for Volume 2.

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