5 Reasons to sleep in the woods
Camping isn’t always easy. I didn’t grow up camping, and to be honest it took me awhile to warm up to it. Now that I’ve been camping on and off for about seven years, I’ve spent some time thinking about what keeps me going back.
The last time Ben and I went camping I had bruises on my hips for several days after we got home from carrying my pack. We also ran out of fuel for our camp stove and couldn’t make breakfast, so we had to hike out seven miles and drive for awhile before we could get any food. It’s not always the stuff that dreams and pretty photos are made of!
So why go camping?
- Disconnect. There’s nothing quite like being in the woods or on a mountain to disconnect from a busy life. Most of the time when we backpack there’s no cell phone signal. Our time camping is quiet and free from distraction.
- Simplicity. The things you worry about on a camping trip are basic, and decisions are simple: where will I sleep, what will I eat? You are limited to what is in your backpack (or car), and there isn’t room to add to the agenda.
- Cheap adventure. Camping is a great way to get away for a weekend without spending a ton of money. After our initial investment in gear (most of which we’ve been using now for 7-8 years) the only ongoing costs are camp food, fuel, gas for the car to drive to the mountains, and occasional park passes or camping permits.
- The stars. I always wake up multiple times during the night when I’m sleeping on the ground in our tent. One thing that makes a rocky night of sleep a million times better on is waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a sky bursting with stars.
- Travel Conditioning. Am I talking here about hiking seven miles uphill with a 15-pound backpack on? Not really. What I really mean by travel conditioning is “learning to use the bathroom anywhere.” It seems a little silly to have this on my list, but it’s true: I’ve had an easier time on some of our international travel adventures (like when we did a road trip through Northern Vietnam) because I’ve been in so many trailhead toilets, backcountry toilets, or had no toilet at all. I learned these bathroom tolerance skills while camping, and I know I’m a better traveler because of it. Roadside gas station bathroom in rural Vietnam? Bus station bathroom in Costa Rice? No problem! I’ve come a loooong way since the first time I saw a squat toilet, and it’s because of camping.
The camping trip pictured here was at Echo Lake in mid-July. It’s a 14-mile roundtrip hike, and it really is a lot of uphill climbing on the way in. You pass another lake first, but carrying on to Echo Lake is worth it. The lake is much bigger than I expected, and there were plenty of spots to camp. Read more about this hike on the Washington Trails Association website.
What are your favorite things about camping?