What NOT to do when Camping without Mom & Dad:
lost in a forest for 9 hrs, mild hypothermia, and a trip to the ER.
Camping, an activity my family and I participated in every year until I rushed off to University, 3 years ago.
It’s affordable, adventurous, exciting, and I was so ready to go alone with my friends. With a lifetime of summers complaining in humid cars while my parent pitched tents, what could possibly go wrong?
I knew what it’s like to wee in a bush, shower alongside insects, rake at swollen mosquito bites, and sleep on a rock-filled mattress. I was prepared for the whole no-reception-thing and even practiced setting up the tent the week-of. I knew how camping went, so I texted a few of my most down-to-earth friends and booked a three night getaway at Bon Echo Provincial Park (a non-electrical campsite).
When you’re lazy and minimalistic it can be easy to throw some things together for a trip away from the city, but camping is different. Camping is not a ‘let’s pack everything at 2am’. Unless you want to feel your way through the dark, chop on salty corn chips and instant ramen for every meal & sit miserably in the car while it rains, please DO NOT be like me & pack the morning of.
There is usually trails around the campsites, & when there’s no cell-reception or civilization, one may be tempted to participate in this activity. If you decide to go on a hike, please DO NOT underestimate the recommended timeframe outlined in the booklet. If you start to get prideful and boast about how you can complete a 17.5km trail in 2 hours when the recommended time is 7 hours, like my friends and I, then don’t be surprised when it actually takes you 9 hours, a call to 911, and a few panic attacks.
(And in the very rare case you do find yourself stuck in the middle of a forest with little cell-reception as the sun disappears into the night, because you thought you were a better hiker than 99% of the population as an ‘experienced’ trail-walker and runner, please DO NOT panic. Call the police and wait for instructions. If you panic, you may end up dying by trying to run in any direction to get out, get even more lost, and scare this living sh*t out of all your buddies who are also sh*tting in their pants)
Do not forget to bring a steady supply of water, a lighter, shelter and back-up, when you attempt a 17.5km trail or you might suffer from slight hypothermia, dehydration, and the very real possibility that you might end up in the newspaper, “Four Asians in their Early Twenties attempted a 17.5km trail at Bon-Echo Provincial Park, Died Early Sunday Morning. Didn’t Stand a Chance.”
Download Pokemon Go because they might have the trail on the map (even if Google Maps doesn’t). Below is an actual conversation between the officer and I.
Officer: This might be a strange question, but do any of you have Pokemon Go?
Us: Ummm, one of us?
Officer: Ok. I believe the trail is on the app. You might be able to find the exit by following it.
Spoiler: We did.
Also, DO NOT drive into the nearest city (1.5 hours from the campsite) to indulge in some Pad Thai and mint gelato mid-way through your trip.
An alternative camping activity to trails is canoeing, and if you’re smart you’ll call beforehand, but if you’re anything like me, then all the canoes will probably be rented out except from this one guy who is exchanging text messages with you at 11 pm, claiming he has a canoe for you at his sketchy house. I recommend that you DO NOT drive to a random guy’s house for a canoe, but we did, and thankfully he was a kind fellow who just wanted to stay awake for us (the shop closed at 4 pm and we arrived at 12 am). We exchanged a couple of laughs and he told us about his girlfriend in Windsor.
Early next morning we packed everything in the car before going canoeing, and clearly not learning from my lesson of being stuck in a forest, I was boasting about how hard it was to flip a canoe (almost impossible). We were paddling back to shore, about 7 feet away, when the canoe flipped. The water was freezing cold and one of us didn’t know how to swim. Note to future self: DO NOT boast about how hard it is to flip a canoe, especially when everything is packed in the trunk because God will teach you a lesson.
Which leads me to DO NOT bring everyone’s phones with you on your canoe ride because it will not survive if you flip and you will be forced to converse with hundreds of strangers asking to borrow their phones, the computers at gas-stations, while stopping the car every 15 minutes to ask the local restaurant owner if you’re going in the right direction.
And if you decide to take a shower after being submerged in freezing lake water, DO NOT, because your body might go into shock, making you unconscious, your friends worried, while wounding up in a 1 hour ambulance trip to the ‘nearest’ hospital in Napanee. (Shout-out to Naomi for teaching me this life lesson).
And those are a few “Do Not”s I learned this past Victoria Weekend.