This weekend we are camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. I made the reservations months ago, only able to guess as to whether or not I’d be well enough to camp. Our camping spot is beautiful but I must say that Big Basin has spoiled us. We are in a grove of redwoods and although they are giant ancient trees they are not as giant or ancient as Big Basin. The park itself is actually named after the Big Sur River which flows though the park and is just across the street from our campground. The Coastal Mountains here are bigger than the Santa Cruz range up by where we live, so the river gets more water from the coastal fog. Things here are still pretty green and moist, were things at home have started to dry up.
After a night of camping I’m doing pretty good. My biggest physical challenge is sitting up from my sleeping bag. Since I’m on the ground the roll out of bed technique doesn’t work. When I do yoga on the floor at home, I hook my arms under my thigh and use my butt as a pivot point and gravity to swing up into a seated position. That doesn’t work too well when your legs are in a sleeping bag. Instead, I am forced to use my very weak abdominal muscles to get up. In the end, this is probably a good thing as it helps to strengthen them. It is just one more physical effort for the day that I didn’t expect.
After my late night trip to the loo, I spotted something moving along the trail back to our campsite. Fortunately, I have a good headlap, so I did a quick search out of the area. Rather than what I expected (racoons), it was a skunk. There was no smell to warn of its presence here. I choose to walk the long way back to the tent!
After a second night in the tent I’m exhausted and my back aches. The physical effort to turn from one side to the other while in a sleeping bag is non-trivial. Again, this means that sleep means exercise. I awoke this morning to a grey sky, which echoes kind of how I’m feeling. The cloud bank is about 100 feet up, so things are not damp on the ground (yay).
The birds are chirping and squawking, and the river is still flowing – which means the sounds I hear are mostly of nature with the occasional child crying as they wake in their tents. Taking deep breaths helps to remind me of where I am and to be in the present. It is beautiful here – and smells of nature (old trees and moss). Now that I am up and moving around a bit my back ache subsides. Mental note for next time, I need to remember to stretch before climbing into the tent.
I am briefly visited by a blue jay type bird – not a blue jay. Up at Big Basin they are considered pests. They are not timid and will eat right off your table. There they also eat the eggs of another endangered bird that nests in the area. There is no mention of “crumb clean” camping here, and just like us, the birds are welcome visitors to the campground.
Our plan is to spend two weeks in June mostly camping in Northern California. If I’m not stronger by then, I foresee a couple of nights in either tent cabins or hotels just to give my core a break. I never thought camping was so much physical work!