After seven months living in Seattle, I finally went on a West Coast camping trip. One of my original motivations for moving out here had been the wide mix of outdoor destinations: from Puget Sound and the islands, to the Olympic Peninsula, to the Pacific Ocean, to the Cascade Range. But a long, wet winter didn’t exactly make me enthusiastic about getting outdoors for multi-day stretches.
So when I finally got a good opportunity for a camping trip into the midst of the Olympic Mountains, I jumped at it. However, the trip was unusual for me in that it wasn’t a backpacking trip. Instead, it was a car camping trip, to a place that was essentially a small RV resort on the shore of Lake Cushman.
For me, there are pros and cons to car camping instead of backpacking. Here’s a quick summation:
Cons: Noisier campsite (including stereos blasting ’til the wee hours). Less natural setting. My camping skills (largely learned through backpacking) are not as useful.
Pros: It’s easier to bring beer.
So in the end, it evens out. It was a really fun group of people, though, and we ate well, drank well, and entertained ourselves well. The weather was pretty good– we only had a few showers’ worth of rain, although we didn’t exactly have a lot of Sun, either. It was also, according to longtime Seattle residents, unseasonably cold, even for the Pacific Northwest. The weather sort of reminded me of November camping in North Carolina: not exactly the dead of winter, but still plenty cold. On the first night, one girl started to go into hypothermia, and had to finish the night in the car.
As for me, I basically just threw all my camping clothes into my backpack and went– at first, I was thinking that I had brought too much, but I was glad I had it all. The temperature probably got down close to 40 degrees at night.
During the days we went hiking, although on Sunday one other person and I elected to rent a motor boat and take it out across the lake instead of going on the hike. This was pretty cool– I had never driven a motor boat before– although we had some drama when the motor died on us, and we resorted to paddling with the oars for a good fifteen minutes. (As it turns out, paddling a motor boat is much harder than paddling a canoe.) But after we got fed up with paddling, I tried the motor again, and with considerable fidgeting, was able to get it started– huzzah! Just call me “Cap’n Andrew.”
So all in all, good times. One other benefit of the trip: a couple of the guys I met on the trip are avid backpackers, so hopefully I made some connections that will lead to more serious backpacking excursions later this summer. Maybe some hiking around Mt. Rainier? Here’s to hoping.