No, it isn’t Folger’s in your cup. Admit it, that’s what you were thinking — or rather, singing — in your head when you saw that title, right? Right?? That slogan, popular when I was growing up, perhaps because it was popular when I was growing up, is one of those that was permanently embedded in my brain, just like it is embedded in the brains of every member of my generation. (That and “Mama’s got the magic of Clorox bleach.” But this blog isn’t about that.) Okay, that paragraph went in a direction I didn’t expect. Let’s start again.
We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog so far talking about solo hiking. Suggested hikes, rules for safety, musings, benefits, and so on. That means it’s time to talk a little about solo camping. When I decided to write this, I asked myself, what do I like best about camping?
The answer: waking up in the morning.
Some background as to why this is important (and a revelation to me): I hate waking up in the morning. No matter how much sleep I have gotten, no matter what exciting thing I have in store for me on that day (okay, maybe with the exception of Disney World), when the alarm goes off in the morning, the first thing I want to do is go back to sleep. I could blame it on the fact that I don’t usually go to bed early enough. I could blame it on my bed, which is very, very comfortable. I could blame it on the knowledge that, once I do wake up, there are too many things demanding my attention.
When camping, however, I wake early. Some pessimists may point out that it’s because sleeping on the ground is not as comfortable as sleeping in a bed, and so it is less appealing to stay asleep while camping. This is certainly true. But there are other factors that contribute to waking early while camping:
- You to go to sleep early. For one, that’s because there’s not as much to do while solo camping once it gets dark except to read. (Someday, I’ll tell you a story illustrating why you should never, never, ever read a scary book about murderers right before going to sleep while solo camping.) For another, because you were probably up early the day before, and spent the day hiking or engaged in some other physically draining activity, so you’re actually tired enough to want to sleep early while camping.
- You tend to eat better when camping and hiking — or perhaps eat more efficiently — and drink more water. Say what you will, but I have seen firsthand that change in diet and hydration alters sleeping habits for the better. I/you sleep better, so I/you wake more easily.
- You are less stressed. Once again, this effects quality of sleep. You’re less likely to toss and turn worried about the next day’s deadlines while out in the woods, and therefore have a better night’s sleep. (Except after having read a scary book about murderers while solo camping.)
- The light wakes you up. I don’t know about you, but at home, my room stays fairly dim in the morning until I open the shades. The tent does not block light — it’s not really designed to. That means that you’re more likely to realize early on that it’s morning.
- Fresh air wakes you up. I find that fresh air, particularly if it’s a little cool and damp out, delivers a zing to your senses. And since, while camping, you’re surrounded by fresh air, you wake up more easily.
So while camping, in the early morning, I’ll open my eyes and see that it’s day (or at least dawn). I’ll get a breath of fresh air. I’ll feel rested. I’ll get excited about another day of hiking or other fun activity. And I’ll sit up and stretch. Then I’ll open the tent flap and poke my head out, and that’s when there’s a full-on rush, better than any caffeine, from greeting the day and the outdoors at the same time.
What’s your favorite part of camping?