Okay, you guys, it’s time that I confess. I am not cut out for camping. I’m just not. I’ve tried to like it, tried to pretend that it’s something I’m totally capable of doing and ROCKING, but it’s no use. This last trip to the Adirondacks proved it.
My pretend love of camping first began in the year 2000. I took a course in Grade 11 called Personal Leadership Development, which was four classes combined, a full semester in length, and included several overnight trips and an eight-day camping/hiking/portaging trip in North Bay. I survived. It wasn’t…horrible.
Fast forward to 2003. I took an Outdoor Recreation course in university that involved winter camping. I wasn’t even remotely prepared for the weather on our trip to Algonquin Park, and to prevent me from dying of hypothermia, my prof insisted I sleep in the middle of the boys’ tent so they could keep me warm. That one glorious perk somehow caused my brain to block out the god-awful memory of almost freezing to death. And so I tried the whole winter camping thing again the following year. Not only that, I slept in a friggin’ quinzee (like an igloo) that we constructed ourselves. It was -32 degrees Celsius outside, but the internal quinzee temp hovered around the zero mark. Yeah, great. But zero degrees is ZERO DEGREES. Try sleeping in it! Not possible.
To make matters worse, I was given the wonderful responsibility of fetching water from the hole we’d dug in the frozen lake. But, see, it had been snowing all day and the hole was no longer visible. I couldn’t find it…but my boot did! Yep, I sank into that sucker right up to my knee. Waterproof boots are only waterproof until you fall into a freaking lake.
So imagine me trying to sleep in ZERO DEGREES with a frozen boot on my foot. I remember waking up from not sleeping around six in the morning and being so fed up by it all that I stomped to my prof’s tent (which was heated, btw!) and crawled inside, body shaking, teeth chattering, ready to raise a ruckus, but then one of my classmates who was sleeping in there because she was sick (likely story), grabbed me, took off both my boots and socks, whipped off her jacket, lifted up her sweater, and pressed my bare feet against her bare stomach to warm them. And, I tell you, I could have kissed her! Even if she was faking being sick, she totes saved my life, or at least prevented my feet from being amputated. Thank you, Katie, wherever you are.
Let’s fast forward again to last week. I was invited to join the Grade 10 Outdoor Ed. classes at Nepean High School on their three-day camping/hiking trip to the Adirondacks. My first instinct was to decline, but then I thought, “It HAS been unseasonably warm this fall, and the trees will be absolutely beautiful, and I know better now and will be more prepared to deal with whatever Mother Nature has to throw at me.” So I agreed to be one of the trip leaders, and I spent two whole days fretting and buying warmer things and trying to pack every single sweater and jacket I owned.
And do you think any of that mattered? Nope. Because…rain. We hiked and hiked and hiked like I’ve never hiked before, and I sweat like a beast, and then the rain came, and it got together with the cold and had babies and made me miserable. I got chills that multiplied, and I lost all control…of my extremities. And the temperature dropped to sub-zero that night. I wore EVERYTHING. I practically stood inside the campfire. I still smell like campfire. Nothing helped. I only just started to defrost when I boarded the bus home again, and while everyone else was sharing their fond memories of the trip, I vowed then and there I would never camp again. As God is my witness.
Now, the scenery was nothing short of spectacular, I’ll give you that. And I truly enjoyed the less treacherous aspects of the hiking, and I love being outside in general because nature is amazing. But, in the future, I will stop and take pictures, bask in the beauty for the day, and then be on my merry little way. If I want to sleep under the stars, it will be inside a warm building with four walls and a sunroof. And I’m really okay with that.
Oh, and here are some of the pics I took of the incredible colours when my hands weren’t numb. 😀