Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Camp #8 - A Sleeping Ordeal

On Tuesday night I went camping, returning to Preparation Canyon for the third time.  I aimed for campsite number six but missed the turnoff for it somehow and ended up setting up at campsite number four.  What I have discovered at Preparation Canyon is that few of their campsites are on level ground.  This would affect me later on.
My campsite with the mystery tuft of grass.

The campsite was an area of mowed grass with a fire ring (in the center of the picture surrounded by tall grass), a picnic table, and a mystery tuft of grass (on the right).  The tuft of grass was surrounded by mown grass.  There was nothing in the tuft that would prevent you from mowing it - no stump or rock - just grass.

Rain was in the forecast.  I totally expected to wake up in the rain.  I pitched my tent on the high side of the slanting campsite and sat on the picnic table to enjoy the sunny day while it lasted.  I hadn't expected any sun so when the sun came out it was a pleasant, though a bit muggy, surprise.  I spent the late afternoon and evening reading, eating, and playing with fire.

For my evening meal I had Mountain House dehydrated macaroni and cheese.  It was ok but I found the macaroni a bit too firm for my tastes.  Perhaps I should have let it set a bit longer.  It did smell and taste good though.  Along with the Mac and Cheese I had a Bridgford Ready to Eat Beef with BBQ sauce Sandwich.  The sandwich bread totally encapsulates the BBQ beef.  You can heat them up by putting the pouch in boiling water but a sandwich in its pouch would not fit in my cooking pot and would have used a lot of water to completely immerse it.  I ended up just letting it sit in the sun for a while.  The sandwich was surprisingly good.  The bread was soft and was similar to the end pieces of a loaf of bread.  The BBQ beef tasted good but the quantity of beef was lacking.  I will have to look into buying more of these.

After eating dinner and reading a little I decided to light a fire.  I collected wood and kindle.  Stacked it up in the fire ring and took out a cotton ball soaked in vaseline.  Instead of using the lighter I usually use, I pulled out the flint and steel.  I figured I would try unsuccessfully to light the fire and, after becoming frustrated, would pull out the lighter.  To my surprise after just a few attempts the cotton ball burst into flame.  It took less than a minute of trying.  Cool.  I'm ready for Survivor.

I read for a couple hours, got in my tent early, and read some more.  Knowing that rain would be on the way, I repacked my backpack so I would be ready to leave in a hurry in the morning.  It was supposed to be in the low 60s overnight so I didn't unpack my sleeping bag, opting instead to just sleep in my sleeping bag liner.

The next ten hours or so went like this:

  • I woke up at 10:00PM to the sound of taps.  It wasn't a bugle or horn.  Not sure what it was being played on but it had a nice tone.  Not exactly what I was expecting to hear while camping.  The park is surrounded by farms so I suppose it came from a nearby farm house.
  • At midnight I woke up and realized it was a little chillier than I expected.  I think I always overestimate how warm my sleeping bag liner is.  I pulled out my sleeping bag which remedied the situation while introducing another.  I'd been using the sleeping bag in its stuff sack as a pillow.  I folded some clothes and put them under the sleeping pad which pushed it up enough to be pillo-esque.
  • Sometime after midnight a critter came near my campsite.  From my last camp I know it was a buck.
  • Sometime before 3:00AM I noticed that I'd pitched the tent in the wrong direction.  I had aligned the tent perpendicular to the slope.  The result is that I slid down the hill until I pressed against my tent pole (my tent uses my hiking poles as tent poles).  The end of the pole slid making the tent unstable.  Several times during the night I had to shift the poles back to vertical position before the tent came down on me.  I think the appropriate alignment would have been with my feet pointing downhill.  That's why I'm doing these camps - to learn lessons.
  • At 3:00AM my tent started getting lit up by the lightning.  I knew it was going to rain.  I'd planned for it.  The lightning was not expected and I became worried that the storm might be more than I planned for.  I wondered if I should finish the night sleeping in my car.  I didn't.
  • At 4:00AM the lightning was joined by the sound of thunder and the pitter-patter of rain.  Fortunately the wind that had been blowing most of the afternoon had died down a bit.  Over the next hour or so it alternated between rain and drizzle.
  • I managed to sleep a little more before waking around 5:40AM when a few drops of water managed to get in through the tent's vent - something that wouldn't have happened if the poles hadn't slipped again.  At this point I was wide awake, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle, and there wasn't any reason to try to sleep anymore.  I think I managed to sleep some five or six hours total ... intermittently.
I packed the last things in my backpack (it was dry), dressed, and stepped out into the drizzle.  I packed up the tent and tent footprint and walked to the car.  It naturally stopped raining as I was walking to the car.  I crashed on the sofa after I got home.  I'd hoped that the bike ride I took yesterday morning would have made it easier for me to fall asleep.  It did on my last camp but not on this one.

This will be my last overnight camp until RAGBRAI and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Time for more bike rides and our upcoming New England Vacation.

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