15 March 2009

Camping was...not fun.

Andrew and I went to Assateague Island National Seashore yesterday to camp. The "season" doesn't start til April, so I figured it wouldn't be too crowded. We were right. There were a handful of visitors, and precisely one group with a Backcountry camping permit. Yes, that was us.

We picked the nearest backcountry site (Tingles Island), which was about a 3-mile hike from the ranger station. Three miles isn't too bad, but it was mostly over sand, which made it a little more challenging. Also consider we were carrying everything in, which included food, water, and sleeping bags. We also brought a tarp, but no tent.

Almost as soon as we arrived at the campsite, it started raining. I had read that it might sprinkle a little bit, which it did, but it never really stopped. It drizzled, then rained, then drizzled, pretty much the entire time we were there. We draped the tarp over a picnic table, which kept us reasonably dry, until it started raining harder.

We didn't have any problems getting the fire going, and we cooked up some hot dogs and baked beans.

We had every intention of staying til morning, but this just wasn't happening. It was virtually impossible to stay dry. I expect to be a little uncomfortable while camping, but wet (rain) and cold (35-40 degrees) is a prescription for hypothermia and I just wasn't going to have any of that. Maybe we should have brought the tent, but that kind of ruins the primitive nature of the camping experience, and it would have been a bear to carry, anyways. So in the middle of the night, we decided we had enough, and packed up camp.

When we hiked in, we walked right on the edge of the ocean, where the sand was wet and hard. Fairly easy walking. Not so much on the way out. The tide was coming in, so we were forced to walk up higher. The sand was soft, it was dark and drizzling, and it was pretty much miserable. We caught the road and walked that instead of the beach about half of the way, but that was the only saving grace on the hike back.

I recorded probably less than 2 minutes of film, mostly just of the wild horses. Nice video, but mostly worthless in terms of why I'm camping in the first place. Then again, maybe the threat of hypothermia is good learning lesson to take from this trip. Sometimes its better to wrap things up and pack out rather than soldier on, in the face of such threats.

I'm thinking probably just one more trip, a little bit later in the spring when it warms up.
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