Things not to do while camping | Coeur d’Alene Press
Camping advice can be good. It can save you a lot of headache and heartache
But I’m not going to tell you what to do in the great outdoors.
I’ll tell you what not to do – as in, don’t do what I did on a recent solo camping trip to Glacier National Park.
Starting with …
Don’t take your wife’s phone with you
I was about 200 miles from my drive to Glacier, MT when I found out I had my wife’s cell phone in my back pocket. And yes, I still had my phone too. Somehow, I guess it comes with old age, I absently picked up his phone, which looks a lot like mine.
I spent the next hour calling people and trying to get someone to come to our house and tell my wife I had her phone so she wouldn’t look for it yet.
I felt lousy leaving my wife without a phone and thought she would be pretty bored with me. A bad start for what should have been an epic journey.
So don’t lose your wife’s phone
A day later, I started to wonder what I had done with my wife’s phone. I was sure I put it under a car mat to keep it safe, but no. In the middle of a morning rain, I got everything out of the car and rocked everything. Nothing. I started to point out that not only had I picked up my wife’s phone, but now somehow lost it. It hampered my morning run to Iceberg Lake a bit, my favorite in the world. When I got back to the campsite I started checking with the rangers where a lost and found phone might end up. No lost cell phone sign. I felt worse. Later, when I got home, when I got cell phone reception again, I called her. I heard it vibrate. Under the car mat. Where I put it. Do not ask.
Don’t assume you will find a place to camp
I had planned to stop halfway to Glacier and pitch a tent. Instead, in a hurry, I drove all night to reach Glacier and figured I would camp at Apgar Campground inside the west entrance. Only, the sign said that the campsite was full and since it was near midnight and it was pitch dark, I had no choice but to sleep in the car. Terrible idea. I slept for maybe an hour as I fidgeted in the front seat, stretching back and down as far as I could. On the safe side, I was up at 5:30 a.m.
Do not bring a children’s tent
I have a perfectly good tent, 9 ‘by 9’. Did I bring it? No. Instead, I bought a cool little 5 ‘x 6’ from a thrift store for a few dollars which is more suitable for hobbits. I thought if I slept diagonally in it, I would fit in. I did – barely. It was not comfortable. But the real problem is that it poured rain on the second night. I had an awning over the tent, but every now and then it would fill with water around the edges and cascade down. My head and feet were getting wet, so I pulled back into the car. Not much better. A driving rain echo chamber. This time I slept for about 30 minutes. But again, I was up at 5.30pm!
Don’t camp near a stream if you’re paranoid
Shortly after setting up my camp, my neighbor told me that a moose had strayed, exactly when my tent was now standing. My campsite at Many Glacier was near the creek. Normally a great site. But every time I heard the brush moving, I was worried that it was a moose stomping on me or a grizzly eating me. It was kind of like my irrational fears when we lived in Kauai when I went swimming in Hanalei Bay. I was convinced a shark was going to emerge from the depths – and one day one of them did, about five minutes after leaving the water. Exactly where I had swam off the famous Hanalei Pier. Ha. I was right from the start.
Do not use trekking poles if you are there to run
I bought a pair of these rods at a clearance sale and decided to give them a try. They are great – if you walk. If you came to run the trails like I did, not so good. They changed my mindset from an adventurous, jumping and soaring runner to a careful, shy walker. I told my wife later they made me feel like an old man with canes. She just smiled and nodded. I knew what she meant: “You’re an old man with canes.
Don’t walk for miles alone
After about six miles of hiking to Granite Park Chalet, I realized that I hadn’t seen another hiker for about an hour. In fact, the higher and longer I followed the trail, the fewer people I saw. As I sat on a rock in a vast meadow, the sun long gone, miles from the campsite and narrow paths on cliffs still to be walked through, I realized that if I fell, twisted an ankle, broke my leg, whatever, there would be no one around to help me. I could be stuck there. I came back but I had put myself in a bad situation. Still, being alone in the mountains was the best part of the trip.
Don’t worry too much
Two hours of sleep over two nights has zapped my brain. I wasn’t thinking clearly and had let the circumstances take hold of me. My carefree mind was gone. I let the worry – about a phone, a tent, the rain, visiting a grizzly bear at night, being away from home – taint what should have been. a glorious journey.
It all started by accidentally picking up my wife’s phone. But again, it’s really her fault. She left it where I could find it. She should have known better. When I got home she said she quickly realized that I must have picked up her phone and she wasn’t even mad at it.
Next time, I’ll know better.