3 Tips for Solo Camping (as a Lady)

As you know, I’ve now been on a solo camping trip to here, and I’ve returned to share some wisdom of the wilderness. These are not very gender-specific rules, and they might even be helpful for everyone, but I did take being a lady into account when sleeping in the woods alone. And I bet I am not the best person to give this advice since I’ve only done it one time, but I’m obviously very excited about it and have been talking it up a lot, so here’s what I’ve learned:

June Lake Campground
  1. Plan ahead

    It was important to me to pick out my campground ahead of time. Even though my site didn’t end up having the best view, I was glad to be close enough to other campers to feel safe without being overcrowded. Solitude can be sweet, but for my own security, I preferred not to be too isolated. I planned to arrive with plenty of daylight to establish camp and scope out the area before dark. Years ago, I also practiced setting up my tent ahead of time just to get the hang of it.



  2. Do some activities (but not too many)

    I knew I wanted to squeeze some planned activities in—like June Lake Beach and the June Lake Brewing Company—but I also left plenty of time for lounging and breathing. I thought I might get bored in the dark and hit my sleeping bag at 8pm, but my fire kept me interested well into the night, and then I looked up and saw all the stars!

    Also, you should know how to build a fire on your own. It’s pretty easy in a dry climate. The internet has tips. Luckily, I once went on a camping trip in Austin with a mountain man and two bada** ladies who knew what they were doing, so I acted all “Oh yeah, I know about fires, too,” and observed their tricks while pretending to gather sticks and be helpful.



  3. Lie

    Unfortunately, in the life of a lady (or general person) on her own in the world, sometimes bending the truth is required. I made some friends at the brewery who offered an invitation to come out in Mammoth Village with them later that night. They seemed fun and friendly, but I fibbed and told them I had other plans and hadn’t decided where I’d be staying that night. I might have missed out on some good times, but I had a separate date planned with Nature. I think if someone is going to turn into a real friend, they would understand why you couldn’t be completely honest.



Red Rock Canyon

That might be all I learned this trip, besides not to eat too many Hot Cheetos on the drive up. If you can get past the initial scariness, camping on your own can be a wildly empowering experience and a great way to enjoy spending time with yourself.

June Lake

Hi sweet friends!

Last week, I made a spontaneous pilgrimage to NorCal to visit June Lake, one of the places where I skied with my dad this spring. It's crazy how time slips by--I can't believe I've been out here for almost six months already! After seeing June Mountain in the winter, I knew I needed to check out the area in the warmth of summertime. 

June Mountain

Even with the five hour drive up there, the day was full and peaceful. I found a musical road in Lancaster, CA on the way, then spent the afternoon hiking around the campground and lounging at the beach. August had made the grounds hot and dry, but the waters of the lake were perfectly cool and refreshing. And I don't think any trip to June would be complete without a stop at the local brewery

June Lake

I drove around the June Lake Loop whilst eating too many hot Cheetos and scoping out some other more scenic campgrounds. I was pretty happy with the one I chose, but could've used more access to the water (like at nearby Silver Lake in the photo below). Anyway, mine was safe, bear-free, and with bathrooms so I really can't complain.

June Lake Loop

The next day including a brief visit through Yosemite, and I think that deserves a post of its own. I hope you're still out seeking summer adventures wherever in the world you are!

Sunday Special, Vol. 4

Welcome to September! Here we are on a Sunday that's like a Saturday with a Monday like a Sunday coming soon. I spent the last days of August on an exciting trek up to June Lake and Yosemite, and I will tell you about it very soon. Here's the check in:

June Lake beach

Health

Well, I was an unsupervised child on the camping grocery trip so things started off with apples and turkey sandwich supplies but quickly flew off the rails with chocolate pretzels, hot Cheetos, and frosted mini wheats a.k.a. crack cocaine. I tried to make a comeback later in the week, but yesterday after yoga in Santa Monica, I figured why not stop at Sidecar Doughnuts because, really, WHY NOT? There was a very intriguing chef's special chocolate chip donut with cookie dough in the middle (a cookie doughnut, if you will) that I could not resist, but it ended up being a bit too much even for my sweet stomach. If you haven't been to Sidecar, you certainly should, but my belly advises you to keep it simple with Huckleberry or Butter & Salt.  (-)

Family

Monday was my dad's birthday, so I sent him an electric knife since that is a thing dads are asking for as birthday gifts. A major highlight of the gift was finding the perfect card featuring a pug (do you know I love pugs?) flipping pancakes with the greeting "Dad, you're flipping awesome!" (+)

Friends

Even though the mid-week camping trip was solo, it's been so nice to continue growing a broader group of friends here in LA. The yoga teacher trainings have introduced me to many wonderful people, and I've been running into friends in almost every class now. Also, on Friday night, other friends took me to an extra special art event where we scored some patches and gummy octopi (I guess that was a plus and a minus due to other indiscretions which you can read about in the Health section of this post). (+)

Intimate Relationships

I prefer to keep this section private for now :)

Mission/Work

My teaching schedule was pretty light this week because I had originally planned on going to Burning Man, but all of the arrangements didn't come together as I'd hoped. On the bright side, I picked up a new permanent class--Thursday mornings at 9:30 at 24 Hour Fitness Monterey Park! -- and (sort of) started a monthly email newsletter for yoga happenings. (+)

Finances

Still a minus because I was not very firm about sticking to my two times eating out budget for the week. Better luck next time. (-)

Adventure

Very big adventures were accomplished this week! Camping on my own for the first time was a rousing success! And I picked up a National Park Annual Pass in the hopes that many more journeys will follow. (+++++)

Hobby

Do camping, reading, and yoga count? I got a little frustrated with piano practice because I'm never certain if I'm putting my fingers in the right spots on the keys. My grandma says I need real lessons instead of a book/YouTube. Do you play? Any advice for a confused beginner? (+)

Spirituality

Being on my own up north allowed me to experience a connection to nature while I read more about mindful presence with Jon Kabat-Zinn. I had a reassuring feeling of being home and safe in new places, but of course there's always the need to put down my phone more often and just be. (+)

Emotion

Emotions were on high this week since my busy mind loves venturing from place to place. I'm always packing as much into each day as possible, although that can make me a little restless. I'm slowly learning to spend more time sitting when I haven't scheduled a surplus of activities. (+)

Coleman 4-person tent

Happy long weekend! I hope your sweet days are filled with what you love.

In the Trees

Hi friends! There's a new moon on the horizon, and this week is delivering the excitement of renewed energy and possibilities. How could it not, when it started out like this? (For me, at least!)

Joshua Tree camping

The weekend took me back to Joshua Tree National Park where I camped with a new friend and got to see one of my favorite bands in funky little Pioneertown

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

I have a picture of Georgia, the drummer, on my 2018 vision board and, while I will say that my intention was to play the drums like her, I will accept the universe's offering of getting to see her play the drums in person.

I can tell you that Pappy & Harriet's is a magical venue that is well-worth checking out, and if you happen to be doing so, why not stay at the Black Rock Canyon Campground in Joshua Tree?  It just might be the thing for you.

Hi View Nature Trail Joshua Tree

Pace Yourself

It's starting to stay darker and cooler a little longer in the mornings, but that Texas-like ability to creep into the 90's by mid-day is still going strong enough to make you think twice about lighting cinnamon candles or ordering your various seasonal lattes. We'll be happily basking in the heat of summer until at least October around here.

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In August, I was able to spend a lovely day here, and I kicked myself for letting over 4 years pass in Austin before finding the time to visit. Pace Bend Park has miles and miles of trails, exhilarating cliffs for jumping off into the water, countless campsites for overnight adventurers, and some swell trees for swinging your hammock. The shallow part of Lake Travis was feeling pretty bath-like that day, but it was all just fine.

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If you're an Austin person looking for some sweaty hikes or your last swims of summer, or even a shoreline campground, I think it would really be worth your while. 

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Lands of Enchantment

If you're a person who thinks ticket prices make it too costly to travel, try buying this $60 tent, packing up your car, and driving over to the next state. You just might find yourself in another world.

Sometimes you can camp for $10. Sometimes you can camp for free. Sometimes it will be too windy to camp and you'll get to sleep in your car, which could have been free, if you hadn't already reserved a campsite.

However you choose to sleep in the great outdoors, get out there! There's a lot to see. 

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Utah, Part III

Summertime camping at popular national parks means the excitement waking up well before you want to, sometimes driving to multiple campgrounds, circling loops of tents, and asking around to find out who is leaving and when. Arriving at the right place at the right time means you'll be able to secure your spot for the night. Luckily most campers are friendly and they'll let you stake your claim to their site while they pack up, or they are park rangers and will let you know which sites have already opened or are about to. We felt very fortunate to be able to camp where we wanted every night without having to wait in huge lines or battle anyone for a section.

We followed B's family's recommendation to enter Zion from the East, which turned out to be excellent advice since you drive from not-Zion into a tunnel, and when you pop out, you're in Zion. It looks a lot like this:

Entering Zion National Park
Zion National Park

We seemed to be having even more "right place, right time" success because we soon saw a man pulled over taking pictures of bighorn sheep. B had recovered from my moose/branch and bear/deer confusion in Yellowstone, so he agreed to pull over too. I'd finally found the animal that I'd waited the whole trip to see:

Zion National Park

We saw another one about 2 minutes later, but it was so still and so close to the road that I thought it was a statue and didn't take any pictures. Note that if you see a very life-like animal in a national park, it's probably not a statue!

Zion was also the first place that I've ever been afraid of heights. Like paralyzed with fear, turn around, I'm not going levels of afraid. We had decided on a hike to Angel's Landing since we found it in a book of the most beautiful hikes in the world. On the way, there were signs reminding us to bring a lot of water and telling people who are afraid of heights that they should reconsider. It was 102 degrees and we are not afraid of heights, so we were more worried about death from dehydration than any height-related nervousness.

No problem. The majority of the hike was like this:

Angel's Landing Trail at Zion National Park

And B was wearing his "Vacation Dad" outfit so I felt very secure.

We got to what we thought was the last segment and it seemed a little scary, mostly because there were a lot of people on the trail headed in opposite directions, but we didn't think at all of turning around or not going to the top. We even took this photo saying, "Ha! Too bad for all those people who are afraid of heights. They don't know what they're missing."

Angel's Landing Zion National Park

Thennn we got over that hump and saw the real Angel's Landing summit, which features a 2-foot wide ridge trail with 1,000+ foot drop offs on both sides and looks like this:

Angel's Landing at Zion National Park

So I made us turn around and go back down! (Sorry B!) I don't regret it now since we later read that Angel's Landing is one of the deadliest hikes in the world and fit, reasonable people die there just from stumbling or missing a step. Maybe I'm getting old, but when we hiked another of the deadliest hikes (Huayna Picchu), it did not give me the same feelings of terror that this one did. I only took this one photo of the view in my frenzied fearful state:

Angel's Landing Zion National Park

We descended, avoiding the feisty rock squirrels, to do some more tourism, and I felt ok about it. But if you are a normal, athletic, confident person who wants to do it, Angel's Landing does look pretty cool and you should do it! Otherwise, Zion is a breathtaking place where you can find many other ways to entertain yourself. 

Zion National Park the Watchman

WOW-oming!

Phase 3 of the trip brought us to a new state for me and a new phenomenon for both of us: forest fires!

As we crossed into Wyoming, we began to notice a lot of smoke in the air and started to hear gas station gossip about nearby towns being evacuated due to wildfires in the area. We had a "wouldn't it be cool if...?" moment* and, about 10 minutes later, the universe provided. 

Wyoming wildfire
Wyoming Wildfire

 

*"Wouldn't it be cool if we could see a wildfire up close while we're conveniently protected by our car and far enough away that it won't impact our lives or our travel plans so we can go to Idaho and eat square-shaped ice cream in peace?" It was pretty sobering to see rows of homes about to be eaten by the flames and the firefighters who were in the air spraying water from helicopters or on the ground trying to push the fire back from the road. We felt guilty taking pictures while so many people's lives were being uprooted, but once-in-a-lifetime experiences sometimes call for photos and so we summoned the war photographers in us and proceeded.

Wyoming wildfires

While we were busy looking back at that (^), we didn't notice that these were slowly sneaking up on our right:

The Tetons!

The Tetons!

The Tetons gave us shelter and an unbelievable view for the night while we entertained ourselves with long hikes in inappropriate footwear. B showed off his fire-building mastery and I cooked dinner on my brand new Coleman 2-burner camp stove, which I would regrettably end up breaking on the second night of camping, but which would be fine since I'm afraid of gas explosions anyway.

Next, we went to Yellowstone and decided to do everything in one day, a decision that was exhausting but one that we still stand by. The stones were really yellow, Old Faithful erupted while we were in the parking lot, and I learned that branches often look like moose antlers and your driving partner can get upset if you call out too many animal photo opps that are actually not.

The Earth was full of hot springs and gurgling pools and was feeling very alive! WOW-oming certainly lived up to B's nickname for it since I don't think we said any words other than amazing, incredible, beautiful, awesome, and long breathless wowww's for most of this phase of the trip. We would have loved some more time to explore, but Utah (and showers) beckoned.

Chipmunk at Grand Teton National Park