Archive for Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Camping is packed full of lessons

May 31, 2000

My father-in-law called last week and asked if Scott and I had packed our camping gear for our excursion to Wyoming at the end of June. I laughed, but it turns out he was serious.

I did look at the list of what we took the last time we hiked for a week in the Big Horn Mountains three years ago. My backpack weighed 35 pounds, and I was only carrying the bare necessities of life. It turns out those bare necessities could have sustained me and probably a grizzly bear or two for a month.

My family of experienced campers (giant cook stove, folding picnic table, an oversized tent, volleyball net, bug zapper, coolers full of food), but inexperienced hikers (two sets of clothes for seven days, not very tasty freeze-dried meals, a sleeping bag and tent strapped to your back, no hotel nearby if a storm hits) had overpacked.

So, we learned we didn't need so much toilet paper, beef jerky or dog food, big deal. The dogs four golden retrievers carry their own food in doggie backpacks. That means the two rolls of toilet paper I can discard will lighten my pack to 34.6 pounds.

No, wait a minute. Emily will be joining us this year, so make that at least an additional five pounds for diapers, diaper wipes, her sleeping bag and everything else that accompanies a toddler. I am planning on not having to carry her that's what the jogging stroller is for.

And if we could count on the trout fishing to be as good as our last trip, we wouldn't even need to bring food.

This trip is also going to be more expensive. We had borrowed a lot of the equipment just to make sure we were cut out for the mountain life before making our own investment. Thanks to a going out of business sale, we have made the investment in backpacks, ultra-light sleeping bags and pads to go under them. Thanks to another sale, we bought a five-pound tent that sleeps four. We still need a water filter and miniature camp stove (pricey, but necessary items).

Maybe, in a couple of years, we will reach the level of experienced amateurs and own all of our own camping equipment just in time to take Emily to Disney World instead. Who knows, maybe the survival skills we acquire will come in handy there.

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