Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Love Camping

When I say this in a peachy keen excited voice its usually met by bemused stares saying
“yes I’d love camping aswell if it didn’t involve lugging stuff, tents, peeing behind trees and bugs”.
These thing and more is what makes camping so great. Not that I have a tree peeing fetish or anything…or anything.
We went camping this weekend just a bit up north at Tallow Beach in Bouddi National Park. Just for a night near the beach. We had to carry in all our water, but it was just 1km down a fire trail to the campsite so it wasn’t like crossing Mounty Doom or anything.
keep readingWhat I like about camping-
The little rituals of setting up and breaking down camp
The growing darkness that lulls you to sleep
No housework, phone, work, noise issues
Sitting in the quiet not doing anything just breathing
The simplicity of it all, everything is pared down to the basics, no clutter, no excess.
Early morning breakfast, sitting in the cool stillness listening to the birds and sipping a cup of tea. About as close to a spiritual experience as I’m ever going to have.

I have to give huge thanks to the Obster, that eagle scout, hiker, rafter boy from way back, who without meeting him I probably wouldn’t done some of the amazing trips that have been so much fun. And helped me grow as a person...really i'm very grown.

There are a few types of camping, all fun but all different.

Medieval style- Rowany Festival for example where you bring everything including Ye Olde Kitchene Sinke. We don’t take that much compared to most, but with costumes, armour, swords, bows, arrows, javelins, siege weapons, tent, bedding, booze and food it is a full car/dragon (haha) load and then some.
Some good folk bring four poster beds, hand carved chairs, tables, tapestries and complete herb gardens.
There is nothing like drinking mulled wine, wrapped in a cloak under the icy stars, ruttling around the fire with good friends, ruttling, I said ruttling people…jeez.

Car Camping- Easy and fun. Can take a few more luxuries like pillows and shampoo with you. Have done a lot of this type of camping, in Australia, America and a 6 week jaunt in Africa. Spent 10 months in the USA, and about 5 months of that we spent driving around the USA (not that I had a real pillow the whole time). We camped for most of that, with the well spaced visits to friends and relatives to borrow their washing machines. With had a ute load of stuff, including a inflatable boat and a lap top drove through 33 states of Seppos and several states of mind. We usually worked out where to sleep once it got dark and generally found ourselves in the middle of freakin nowhere. Not that I lost any sleep listening for bears, banjos and Bubba or anything.

Lug It Yer Self- Not as easy but a great deal of fun. When we were in Flagstaff Arizona with Ob’s sister and family, someone came up with the bright idea to hike the Grand Canyon. I had never done ‘carry it all on your back’ camping trip before, so it was a make or break deal. I borrowed a backpack and hiking boots and survived to tell the tale. Here is the email I wrote about that adventure way back in ‘99….. (all this 'be all that you can be' never helped my spelling...)

‘Well i did something that i never considered before and survived rather well (which is the surprizing part).
Rob and i hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back out again.... To get the permits that have been cancelled you have to show up at 8am grab a number and hope there is enough..we didn't get in that day(for Tuesaday nite)so we spent the day wandering around and going to some of the walk and talk programs that the rangers do about aspects of the canyon, we went to one on fossils, geology, flora and fauna...which were all interesting and a good intro to the place.

The canyon itself is well....grand!! Though i think thats a understatment when you first see it....its amazing and the rock formations are spectacular with names like Wotans Temple, Vishu Temple, Shivas Temple..etc

We got permits the next day to leave on Wednesday....Two nights for the campgrounds. So we spent the day organizing and conserving energy.

Wednesday morning 17th March: two young, fresh niave tourists with large packs depart the surface to descend the South Kibab trail approx 5000ft, 17km of dusty switchbacks, dodging muletrains and not plumberting to thier untimely demise over the edge.
Wednesday afternoon: two young, vaguley fresh and still naive tourists reach the Colorado River and the Bright Angel campsite.
Not exhausted, a little sore, glad to be on flat ground, Stayed awake till 8pm to get a beer at the Phanthom Ranch bar- only served Bud or Coors so had red wine instead.

Thursday morning 18th March: two young,crippled,not so naive tourists awake to the sound of the birds and river, pity the youngest one can't move to enjoy it....ouch, ouch bloody ouch!!!....hips, legs don't want to work, whinges alot, nearly staked out older one for puma bait for talking her into this.
Uphill all the way for approx 11km to Indian Gardens campground, legs getting better, uphill good, downhill BAD!!
Thursday afternoon: Two young, dishevelled and crippled tourist make to the campground...Mad older one decides to walk and extra 3 miles to see a view, younger saner one lays in tent and reads book.
Cool sunset,bed!

Friday morning 19th March: two not so young, still crippled, naive fled long ago, tourists struggled from tent and hobble around, much cursing "who cares if the rescue helicoptor costs $2000...."
Start off on final leg, another 11km uphill(still good, downhill still bad). Consider a mulejacking and pushing off cliffs all the fresh, clean, packless, happy day hikers that are coming downhill.
Friday afternoon: Two old, crippled, smelly, better get some muscle toning outta this, tourists reach the surface kinda intact.
Drive back to Flagstaff where a cold beer, and a hot tub awaited!!!

Considering that this was my first ever backpacking trip i don't think that i went too badly and it wasn't that exhausting except for the leg bit, some of the switchback were steep, and we were in shade for more of the trip up...would never do it in Summer!!...We had great weather, though its a really dry year, hardly any snow or rain, the summer is going to be very bad for fires.
It was a amazing thing to do, the views were incredible and to see the cliffs looming above you was dizzying.
Despite the whinging that Rob just laughed at, i'm really glad i did it and the pain has nearly gone.’

Since then we have done more multiple day hikes and camps, all through beautiful and stunning terrain. 8 days on the Cradle Mtn/Overland Track in Tasmania, 5 days on the Jatbula Trail Katherine Gorge NP Northern Territory, Half Dome Yosemite CA, Sequoia NP CA., 4 day sea kayak trip around the San Juan islands north of Seattle, 3 day canoe and drag up and back Katherine Gorge, Twice spending 2 weeks on islands in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef and hoping to do many more.

See its not all that bad, even the tree peeing

I will happily admit that the first hot cleansing shower and cold beer from fridge afterwards is pretty special too.