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  • Writer's pictureEmily Duane

discovering camping

Our final stop to give context to why I love to write about certain outdoor activities... camping. Specifically, front country camping... yet another forced family fun activity that I dumped as a teen.

sadness on the saco

The hiking boyfriend I mentioned in my last post? We went camping on the Saco River once. ONCE. He said he'd take care of everything... the tent, sleeping bags, food. All he packed was steak. No other food, and no utensils of any sort. Like... are you seriously expecting me to gnaw on steak for three days? The tent was fine, but he brought two sleeping bags. No pillows. No mats. I could keep going on about all the other reasons this trip was terrible, but... for the love, a few amenities would've made it much better!

happiness on the saco

The second time I went camping on the Saco, with a different group of friends, was much nicer. Bottom line, you HAVE to camp with the right people and the right gear or it just won't be fun. Period. Sleeping on the ground is hard enough.

rediscovering camping, for real

Anyway, I gave up on camping until I moved to Colorado. So, do that math... I've only been camping for just over two years by now.

My first trip was to Colorado National Monument with a friend. It was hot in the desert on top of a canyon. I woke up in the middle of the night having to pee so badly, but I was terrified of mountain lions, so I laid in my two-person tent trying not to wake up my friend or pee my pants.

There were no showers, so we made the trip into Grand Junction to take a dip in the town pool and used the locker room to de-stank ourselves. I think we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an unmemorable dehydrated meal. It was fun enough. I guess. Hah!

My next trip was to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Again, no showers. But I learned my lesson and invested in baby wipes. There were three of us this time, two of us sleeping in our own tents and one sleeping in the back of her car.

I still didn't know what the heck I was doing about things like food, so the car-camping friend thankfully had brought a Jetboil and made a yummy dinner of couscous, green peppers, and onions. Apparently I didn't take photos of our campsite. My bad.

my education

Honestly, I really learned about camping when I landed a role in the marketing department for Kelty. That's how I got knowledgeable about tents, sleeping bags, mats, air mattresses... and I realized I personally prefer front-country camping. For a variety of reasons.

does a girl shit the woods?

I do not shit in the woods. Nnnnope. I don't want to. It's not liberating for me the way some of my friends seem to find it. I just prefer having access to flushing toilets. And showers. And not carrying everything I need on my back. And not setting up/breaking down frequently. And not eating dehydrated food.


I want to book a site for 3-5 days, set up a 6-person tent for little ol' me, and sleep on a double-wide air mattress. I want to have all of the blankets to snuggle under. I shower before bed. I have a battery-powered fan to blow on my face at night. I pimp out my tent with fairy lights. I have a Jetboil and a camp stove and plan meals around eating the fresh food first and the packaged stuff once the ice in my cooler melts. I pick campgrounds with wifi, because I'm a freelance writer and need to have the flexibility to keep working when I'm on the road. There's no shame in my game.

still learning + loving

So... I'm still learning this one as I go. But I love it. So far, my favorite camping trip has been an overnight at The Needles Outpost, 1.5 miles away from the entrance to The Needles part of Canyonlands National Park. It was remote, but had everything I needed for a comfortable stay!

You do NOT have to be into backcountry camping to enjoy camping. There's nothing wrong with booking a site at a KOA or some other campground with a variety of amenities. There's nothing wrong with wanting to eat real food that comes out of a cooler (or the fridge, if you're into RVing). You don't have to be "hardcore" to have fun!

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