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Yesterday was a big day for me, because I concluded my first ever solo camping trip. What I want to do is a long top level post about all the details and nuances and things I learned on the tip. In fact, what I really should do is write more in general since I've had a lot of experiences that feel like they deserve their own posts. Unfortunately since I've been extremely busy lately, as usual, this will have to do. I guess I'll just do a brief retrospective here and try to save any more profound thoughts for when I have more time.

First of all, it's crazy how camping pretty much requires a lot of driving to get somewhere beautiful and remote. It's also crazy how just about everyone who owns a car could do this whenever they want, because the barrier to entry really isn't that high. I, on the other hand, had to go through the great trouble of renting a car and figuring out parking and then returning it after I was done.

The drive itself wasn't bad at all though. I discovered the occasional hour or two drive is quite fun, definitely preferable to an hour or two flight. It's probably because you can stop whenever you want to stretch your legs, plus it's pretty fun to drive on scenic rural roads.

One thing I didn't expect about the campgrounds is that is was surprisingly social. I guess that's to be expected for any reasonably accessible campsite near a major city, but it was full of people, families specifically. There was a playground for kids, teens were biking all over the place, there were pets. There were a lot of groups of kids wandering around - I wonder if most of them came with friends or made new ones while camping - and I assume that means it was pretty safe too. It must be an amazing experience as a kid to hike and run and bike all day, then watch the stars and night while eating freshly roasted marshmellows from a campfire.

A lot of people had pretty nice accomodations, like RVs, but I had just my lowly hammock. Which ended up being great. I had some concerns about the practicality of it, but for the most part they were all alleviated. It was fast to put up, comfortable, warm (mostly), relaxing. I do concede that it's not as cozy as a tent, with walls and a roof all around you, but that same aspect is what makes it nice to lounge around in even during the day.

Of course, I brought it all in my one huge wilderness backpack, which is designed for long term backpacking. I wanted to test out if I could easily carry all my supplies on a hike without compromising on food or shelter. My conclusion? Yeah it was kind of heavy, and I was carrying less food and water than I really would, but ultimately it's very doable. If I took it slow and took breaks I could probably get 10km per day easily. Even the biggest of packs fill up deceptively fast though - some people can cram a week's worth of supplies in theirs but I'm not sure how that's possible.

Making a fire is also incredibly difficult. If I didn't have my stove with me as backup I'm not sure how I would have done it. Theoretically with good, dry tinder and firewood it's possible but I did not have the experience needed to judge good wood from bad. Now I understand why people are so selective about firewood, because it's really difficult to find good stuff if you don't know what you're looking for.

On that note, the dehydrated meals you reheat with boiling water were really good. I think it's definitely superior to most fast food, and comparable to restaurant takeout. I especially liked that it's high calorie enough to be made for hikers, because most portable food isn't anywhere close to being filling. It's also quite relaxing to just sit there on a cold spring morning with some warm food in your hands out there in the forest.

Unfortunately, it did get a little cold during the night. Double unfortunately, I made a slight mistake when setting up the hammock and so there was a cold spot on the side. Not so bad I would go out and fix it, but enough to keep me aware of it during the night. It made one sleeping position very uncomfortable so I didn't get a great sleep that night. However, I know what I did wrong, a piece of the underquilt was just pinched and stuck, and next time should be better.

Despite that, being in a warm cozy cocoon wrapped up in the hammock is so incredibly cozy at night. Especially because you can see the stars and the trees as you drift off, and there's no hard cold ground beneath. Not as nice as a full bed, but nicer than a number of floors I've slept on. I'm just lucky I don't have to pee very much, because getting up and going out into the cold night is a horrible experience, especially when you're sleepy. I can't imagine how bad it must have been in cold winters before we invented indoor plumbing.

I wish I had more time out there, but being there for just one night hardly felt like camping at all. I didn't really feel any disconnect or escape from fast paced city life, especially becuase there was signal the whole time. I could have even watched youtube if I wanted!

I can see that doing this for like a week, with a group of other people, especially if you have plentiful supplies brought by car, must be an incredible experience. Even being out there for just one night, I think the outdoors has an incredible effect on the human psyche and so many benefits I haven't yet got to experience.