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I wrote my book for women and also men who were reluctant campers, people who are born in cities, who never saw anybody camping. Like me. I didn’t know anybody who camped as a kid and I just was never exposed to it and the whole idea of it seemed scary and gross and dirty and a chore. And then I fell in love with it.
So the big thing I can tell you about planning a beginner trip is to make it manageable and plan it so that you still love camping after the first trip.
For a beginner, a great first trip is car camping. It really gets you a little bit initiated to the great outdoors and suddenly you realize how nice it can be to be away from electricity and television and your cellphone and conveniences, and even your bed, but at the same time, you’ve got your car there, so if you forget something you can always run and get it.
You can bring a lot of stuff, so you don’t have to stress about packing. You can bring water, you can bring a cooler, so you can have the foods that you like to have. Car camping is a great way to get started as a camper.
If you want to try a primitive camping trip, there’s a couple of things I think you should think about. I would recommend just about a one- to two-mile hike in and what I mean by that is you park your car, you put on your backpack, and then you hike one to two miles in to where camping is permitted and that’s where you set up. And then I wouldn’t plan the kind of trip for a beginner where you’re traveling. I would say you hike in, you camp, and then you hike back out.
From home base, from your camp site, you can plan hikes, but you’ll always come back, like the center of a tire, that’s your home base and then you can take trips out from there. I think that makes a really nice beginner trip. I think it’s just enough to feel that you accomplish something and you feel like you really tried primitive camping because there won’t be a way to go to the bathroom, you’ll just live off of what’s on your back, so you’ll have that really exciting feeling of doing that, but you’ll also be so close to your car that you could run and get something if you needed to. And you’ll have that safety of knowing that the car is not that far away.
So a one- to two-mile hike in off of the trail head to your camp site, it gives you the chance to experience living off of just what’s off your back. It gives you the chance to experience primitive camping, so there is no bathroom to run to, there is no outhouse with running water, a place to wash your hands.
So you’ll get to experience all of that, but you’ll be close enough to the car that leaving is easy when you’re done and you just want to get home. You have a quick little hike out, you’re in your car and you’re on your way to the conveniences of civilizations, and you also have the safety of knowing that the car is not that far away if you decide you hate it.