Extreme(ly Unpleasant) Camping: Part 2
Cold camping. The cold one. Ahhh, the cold one.
I was dating an attorney from Atlanta; let’s call him M. Crazy things happened to the guy, all the time. He expected weirdness, and was seldom disappointed. Any bizarre occurrence that was dealt, he dubbed “M’s World”. For him, shit just happened. He bought a brand new Corvette, and a week later, hit a deer on a stretch of road in the woods. He had it repaired, and a couple weeks later, hit another deer. He had never before hit a deer. While heading out on a date one night, the guard gate at my apartment smacked down on the hood of his Corvette. I said, “That’s weird. That’s never happened before.” He told me he had spent his entire life hearing those words.
We were planning a camping trip – whitewater rafting with a bunch of people I had never met. Destination: West Virginia, in early October. I grew up in the South; it never occurred to me that cold might happen.
We brought my two dogs. Bella (the Italian Greyhound) was dumb as a freaking post. (I found out AFTER I got her that her breed is “remarkably difficult to housebreak”). The dogs ran around the campground while we pitched a lot of tents around a communal firepit. I kept an eye on both of them Nymo peed. Bella, I didn’t see. I was hoping I had just missed it.
That night, it snowed.
It snowed about an inch. I woke up FREAKING cold, despite our air mattress and warm sleeping bags. M woke up freaking cold and WET. We had run Bella around and around the campground the night before, hoping that she would settle down and pee. Having failed this simple task. Bella crawled that night into M’s sleeping bag (despite not being his dog) and peed all down his leg, and into his sock. When he woke, he rocketed out of the sleeping bag (into the snow, which we did not know was there), holding aloft a dripping yellow sock. He had never before been so close to dog-icide. He also had not brought a spare pair of socks. Also his sleeping bag was wet. And he was standing on a bare foot, waving a yellow sock, surrounded by snow. Another yell about the presence of the snow. The phrase “M’s World” was invoked frequently.
After M dissuaded himself from killing my dog (I wouldn’t have blamed him), we put on wetsuits and drove to the boat loading site. It had also not occurred to me that the WATER would be horribly cold. I figured it would be reasonably temperate, since it had recently become fall (in the South). Hell frick no. Water flowed down from the mountains, where there was already snow, and it was FUCKING cold. So cold. I can’t stand being cold. Cold is like death to me.
Despite a full wetsuit, I shook uncontrollably, the entire time. Pre-boat, boat, and post- boat. Water splashed by gallons into the boat. My hair was soaked. The wetsuit had turned into a sponge that held every drop of icy water. I was so horribly miserable, I prayed that we would hit a rock and I would be thrown from the boat, smashing my head, because death would have been a better alternative.
After an interminable amount of time, which felt fatal, we finished our ice luge and at last returned to the car, where I thought I would get warm. Nope. I hadn’t brought a change of clothes, and was drenched, and my teeth were clacking all the way back. Then, we had to get out of the car and trek back through the snow to our camping site, still clad in drenched wetsuits. Death. I swear, I wished for death.
I plastered myself to the campfire that night. I wouldn’t get any farther away than three feet. When one side of me got painfully roasted, I would flip the other side to the heat. Flip. Smoke. Flip. Brrr. Leaving the fire for the tent was like being wrenched away from a friend.
We turned the sleeping bag inside out that night, so the pee part would be on the outside. Unsurprisingly, we were stinking and cold.
The drive home the next morning, with dry clothes, and the heat in the car, was the highlight of the freaking trip.
If driving home in the cushioned, warm comfort of a car is the best part of a camping trip, camping is probably not for me. Thus, I don’t camp any more. Ever.
And if I need more solidification of anti-camping sentiment, I’m also terrified of bears. Campsites have bears. I have no desire to be on the wrong side of anyone’s food chain, thank you very much. I’ve had enough camping drama as it is. I feel strongly that if I am ever stupid enough to camp again, I will almost certainly be eaten.