Camping is out for me

Peter Warland really misses roughing in the bush — not!

“I used to camp a great deal back in the Pleistocene, but this was because I was poverty stricken, and couldn’t even afford Motel 8.” George, 1999

Peter Warland

Earlier this spring, my grandson asked me if I’d like to go camping with him and his family. I demurred. I told him as politely as possible that I didn’t believe in camping out on purpose. It is too masochistic for me.

To me, spending a night out in the bush — with critters, crawly bugs,  and things that go bump in the night — is a sort of insanity. The only time that I camp out is because it is the only way that I can get to where I want to be.

If I were to climb Everest or ski to the South Pole, for example, I’d plan to leave very early in the morning and so plan to return early to my bed. Tents are anathema to me.

Besides, Dave Barry, that other columnist, tells me that it always rains on tents. Clouds will turn around and travel against the prevailing wind for miles in order to rain on tents.

Aeons ago we planned to climb Mount Athabaska, up there in the National Parks. It looked like a long trudge over the glacier so we took a tent, a couple of air-mattresses, and a small stove, then trudged up high with bulging packs. It took an eternity.

There were four of us in that tent that night and we were trying to sleep across two mattresses and it wasn’t much fun. Each time one of us moved, the other three bounced about like corks.

Cleverly, in order to save time and the amount of gas for the stove, we had boiled some eggs before we set off and those eggs gave me indigestion so bad that I thought, as we made the summit, I might be having a heart attack.

I have grovelled in dank caves, squatted in squalid barns, endeavoured to find rest in the porches of abandoned chapels, and tied myself to a tree on a perilous slope of a mountain. I do not remember blissful slumber.

We arose one morning in Scotland to find that our (relatively water-tight) tent had somehow moved itself into the middle of a small lake. We fled; the next day when we returned to rescue our refuge we found that, overnight, it had been blown to rags.

I used to think that winter camping might be fun. After all, you’re not going to get rained on in mid-winter in Canada, are you? All it takes is a good fire consisting of one dry 20-metre larch tree cut into suitable lengths, an endless supply of matches, several hundred spruce branches for a mattress, a great inflammable sleeping bag and a tarp to protect you from snow avalanching off other, plus another idiot to share the experience with you. Oh, and don’t forget to take your boots into your sleeping bag or you’ll not get them on in the morning, if you survive.

So, even though I knew that my grand-son and his ensemble would be ‘camping’ in a vehicle as big as my house. They’d have electronic devices to serve all of their comforts yet, if I recall, they’d be surrounded by other noisy ‘campers’, some of whom might actually sit outside by a fire, and to me it would have been a tad like Dante’s Inferno with bugs and very little sleep.

I read recently about a woman who has a tent in which she sleeps (at home, I presume, safe from the elements) and attached is a machine that deprives her of oxygen so that she might adapt to higher altitudes. I am going to get one before I tackle Lakit Lookout again. In fact, I don’t intend to do anything energetic or inane before I have that apparatus installed.

I am becoming more and more thoughtful about what I put my ancient body through. Camping out on purpose, for example.  I’ve been there, done that and have several grubby T-shirts to prove it.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

What's happening at the Cranbrook Public Library
What’s on at the Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby The Library is now open with extended hours (with some… Continue reading

The City of Cranbrook is warning the public that the lake at Idlewild Park is not currently safe to skate on after someone cleared the ice over the weekend. (Submitted file)
Idlewild Lake still not safe for skating: City of Cranbrook

Ice on area waterbodies is currently quite thin, and not yet ready for recreation

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

File Photo
Missing hunter found dead in South Country

A hunter was reported as overdue on Nov. 29, and was found deceased on Nov. 30 following an RCMP and SAR operation

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read