Analog Girl’s Five Commandments for Backpacking and Camping

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, this past summer I planned and organized 3 car camping trips and 2 backpacking trips from as early as February of this year. As much as I LOOOVVVE camping and backpacking, organizing those trips and coordinating everyone together becomes a pretty laborious process. It’s like herding cats. I now have a “NO INVITE” list of people that are no longer going to be included on my trips. Sorry, don’t take it personally – you’re still my friend! If you organize a trip, we’ll play by your rules. But when I organize a trip, these are mine.

I prefer to be a happy camper. Or a happy climber. Whichever.

In no particular order:

RULE #1: PLEASE DO NOT FLAKE

Unless you have an extremely good excuse (like someone dying, like you breaking a leg), please, please, PLEASE do not flake on a camping or backpacking trip! I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s hard to plan a trip when you don’t know how many people are coming. It affects cooking shifts, who brings what food, how to divvy up the supplies and the costs of the trip, car rides there, and just plain ol’ organizing fun activities. I take people’s interests and what they like to do into account when I plan my trips, so when people don’t show up it’s just hard to reorganize. I also try to make things simple so that no one else has to do very much, and I do try to ensure that the trips have enough people so that everyone has a good time.

RULE #2: NO WHINING 

That also means complaining, being a “Debbie Downer”, and having an attitude about what we’re doing during the trip. Make the best out of the experience! Complaining when things go obviously wrong, or when things are sloppy is okay (sans negative attitude perhaps). As mentioned above, I try to take everyone’s feedback into account when planning these trips. The hard part is that people don’t always know what they DO like, but they often know what they DON’T like (when it arises, not beforehand). If you don’t want to do the activity that most of the group wants to do, you don’t have to do it. Not a big deal! We can split up and regroup later. However, if you really don’t like how the trip is going, it might have been a good idea to choose to not go in the first place.

I had to convince people to go to Horsetail Falls. Totally worth it! Reem and I were obviously all about it.

RULE #3: IF YOU GO ON A TRIP WITH ME, KNOW THAT I LIKE TO BE ACTIVE

Everyone has a different camping, hiking, or backpacking style. I’m not the type of person who does 20 mile days (I like to take photos and make stops at nice places), but I do want to make the most out of any location that I’m at. That means when I go backpacking through an amazingly beautiful wilderness area, I want to see new sights, climb mountains, swim in lakes, and go places. I don’t plan on sticking by the campsite all day long and sleeping, or just going swimming for an entire day (this only applies to backpacking. If we’re car camping, that’s okay). To me that’s just glorified picnicking. A day of rest is okay, but more than a day makes me sad. I also like to be active during the day (as opposed to only being active in the morning or evening, when it’s cooler). If you don’t like to hike or go swimming during daylight hours, you won’t want to go camping or backpacking with me. I also don’t tend to wake up before 7 or 8 am unless 1) it’s wayyy too hot to hike during the day, 2) I’m trying to cover some serious distance when backpacking, or – 3) I’m trying to see an amazing sunrise. See Rule #2 again.

An exception to the “no getting up before 8 am” rule

RULE #4: I LIKE TO EAT WELL

There’s no rules when it comes to bringing food on camping or backpacking trips, EXCEPT for: 1) We share food. If you want to only bring PBJ sandwiches and hot dogs, I can roll with that, but I do love a good meal. This means that when I go car camping, know that I will probably be BBQ’ing steak and veggies over an open fire, cooking butterfish in butter and garlic, eating korean BBQ ribs, making cinnamon french toast and apples for breakfast, and ramen with eggs and nori and spam. For backpacking, I like good food, but I’m actually not too picky – I could eat dehydrated pasta primavera OR smoked gouda with a baguette. I’m grateful for any and all food when I’m backpacking, but I do appreciate a variety.

Apples, cinnamon and butter over an open fire

RULE #5: BE PREPARED

If you don’t have backpacking or camping gear, I can loan it to you. Just make sure to take care of it (and return it in good condition once you’re done). I once loaned a tent to someone and later found moldy, dirty ass socks in my bag of stakes. I think it was just a joke, but it’s kinda hard to get rid of the mold smell once it’s in your tent! I am really into getting first-timers to go backpacking with our groups – I just ask that folks try to make sure they’re prepared and physically fit for the trip. If someone is experienced and they somehow get hurt, that’s understandable – that sh*t happens. But if an over-ambitious newbie who doesn’t prep for the trip ends up getting hurt, then we’ll all be sacrificing the rest of our backpacking experience to carry their ass down the mountain. Kinda puts a damper on the mood. We always meet beforehand to brief everyone on what to bring, what gear is good to use, what to do to take care of our health when hiking, and all that good stuff – so just make sure to take note. And do some cardio/strengthening before our upcoming backpacking adventure, it hella helps.

Rob’s first backpacking trip!  And he brought the rain poncho.

There’s probably more rules – I mean best practices, but that’s it for now. Happy camping!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “Analog Girl’s Five Commandments for Backpacking and Camping

  1. I loved your article and feel everyone should plan carefully before hiking. Never assume that the others have everything covered.

  2. especially rule #1! I hate people who flake on anything — but when I’ve spent all night prepping delicious food, packing and planning a hiking route, that is the worst!

    • Yeah, it’s really hard when people flake. For my trip to Calaveras Big Trees, about eight people originally signed up to go, but only one person actually made it to the trip! I had to hustle to find another 4 people to go on the trip with us a week before the date.

      An addition to rule #1 would also be: “Don’t decide to join at the last minute once you see who else is attending”. Some people don’t like to make commitments til the very end. It feels like sloppy seconds!

  3. Janet says:

    I loved your rules especially #3. I agree, it’s hard to sit around and do nothing when there’s so much to see and do. Life’s too short.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: