Back from Camping: Lessons Learned

2 Sep

So we had a successful trip, but there were definitely some lessons to be learned along the way.  First, here is a picture of our camp kitchen, minus the grill, which had yet to arrive.

 

Camp Kitchen

 

You’ll notice that I’ve hung our cast iron cookware using simple iron hooks.  My DIY cupboard makes an appearance as well, but there were definitely some design flaws that need working out.  The design of the kitchen worked well for the most part.  When the other half of our party arrived later that night, we were able to fit another cooler, a stand-up grill, and a six-foot table under the canopy as well.

Notice those orange things on the canopy legs?  Those were pieces of a foam noodle that I cut up to make the campsite safer.  Every pole, leader line, and every branch that might jump out and smack an unsuspecting camper got a piece of bright orange to make the hazards stand out.  Which brings me to my first lesson learned.  I had also acquired a can of glow-in-the-dark spray paint to make these noodle pieces light up at night.  In theory, the clear paint should have absorbed sunlight throughout the day and then lit up at night.  In practice, this did not work out.  Save yourself the $10 and put it toward something more useful than paint.

The second lesson I learned was if you are going to go up in multiple cars, try to leave as close to the same time as possible.  And if you can’t do that, make sure you divide up the essentials in a way that ensures your survival until reinforcements arrive.  My wife and I left for the campsite early.  It was a four hour drive.  Our in-laws, who were our camping companions, left a couple of hours later.  On a busy Labor Day weekend, that delay made a load of difference.  An accident on Highway 87 left the road closed for hours.  Their four hour drive became an eight hour drive.  Worse yet, they had the grill and the water!  So while we anticipated their arrival around 5 pm, they didn’t roll in until after 9 pm.  Luckily, there was a general store for us to get some water and I was able to use the campfire for the night’s food.  Still, it could have gone more smoothly.

Lesson number three: altitude sickness is a real thing.  And it is not fun.  Failing to properly hydrate at higher elevations makes you dizzy, short on breath, and nauseous pretty quickly.  Think about the amount of water you’d normally drink at lower altitudes and double it at higher elevations to be safe.  A few extra trips behind the trees is infinitely better than waking up feeling hung over (without the previous night’s fun).

Lesson four:  Altitude also sucks for transport.  On the way up the mountain, I lost two cans of biscuits that popped.  I lost 4 eggs that cracked (in really strange patterns).  And you know how people say that you should buy gallon jugs of water and freeze those to keep your cooler cold?  Yeah, both jugs burst and as the water started to melt, they leaked everywhere.  Not fun.

Final lesson: I want to do my best Hank Hill impression and talk about propane.  Your propane grill will likely take half a tank just to boil water or cook a meal.  One of the downsides of camping is just the sheer slowness of a camp kitchen.  So bring more propane than you think you’ll ever need.  Even if you have a campfire as a backup, it will be even slower and less reliable than the consistent heat delivered from your stove.  You don’t want to run out of fuel halfway through a trip.  For our 3 night trip, I went through four small canisters of propane, even though I used my stove for no more than coffee in the morning and then cooking dinner at night.

So that is it for now.  I will be back with the most important lesson I learned in a separate post: Treatment for a burn suffered within the first hour of arriving at camp.

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