I would like to dedicate this entry to any woman who thinks she may not be the “camping type.”  I wasn’t the camping type, either.  If I had the choice between sleeping in a dirty tent and smelling like ashy firewood, or waking up in a nice fluffy white bed with indoor plumbing, obviously I’d rather pick the latter.  Fortunately for me, my husband is a camping junkie and lovingly forced me to face all my camping fears.

I never thought I would enjoy camping, but I have to say that I really do.  Do I want to go without a toilet for an entire week? Not necessarily, but three days isn’t bad.  The first time I went camping, there was nothing to write home about.  It seemed kind of boring walking into the middle of woods, looking at a fire and then going to bed once the sun went down.

But then…. beach camping happened.  We went to North Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where we had our very own private beach.  We could wake up early, make coffee and walk down to the beach and watch the sun come up.  We could put our bathing suits on and enjoy the water.  At night, we could sit out and see all the stars which beat any planetarium I’ve ever been visiting.  I love our solar system, and this was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

We went hiking and camping at Dolly Sods  in West Virginia and that was beautiful.  It was extremely challenging having to hike that much, but it was rewarding.  The views we saw rewarded us from our hard labor.

If you are a woman, and you want to try camping, and you’re not sure you can handle it, let me give you a few tips that have made camping more comfortable for me:

  1. Purchase a Go Girl, or bring a bandana. The Go Girl’s motto is, “Women can pee standing up.”  Or opt for a more “green” and cleaner option, by just squatting and wiping with a bandana and letting it dry on the outside of your pack.  It is sanitary, I’ve done it, and less of a mess to carry out your stuff in a leave-no-trace camping situation.
  2. Bring a pillow.Even if it means leaving some clothes at home, better save room for this.  This is the difference between a sweet sleep and a splitting headache for the entire next day.
  3. Do weight-training at the gym.It’s a misconception that lifting weights just bulks you up.  It actually gives you the endurance you need to carry a large pack on your back and not want to die.
  4. Purchase a Klymit air-pad.  This was one of the best camping investments I’ve made.  After sleeping on a tree root all night, I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to feel every single rock and grain of sand under my back.  This did the trick.
  5. Bring your own Clif bars.  We call these “homemaders.”  For some reason, when you’re eating these, you forget all your pains while hiking for miles.  All it is is honey, peanut butter and oats.  Boy, they’re good, though.
  6. Good shoes, band-aids and clean socks.Not much else to say about this.  This is crucial.
  7. Have fun.I shouldn’t have to say this, but when you’re achy and used to complaining, you have to be told to enjoy yourself.  Remember, you’re outside enjoying the weather, collecting sticks to burn like a pioneer, and getting messy and dirty.  It really is fun, so enjoy yourself.

Below are some photographs from some of my camping trips.  Look at these views. Don’t you want to at least try?

Nina Thomas

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