After spending two freezing nights in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, I decided to spend a night in a motel. Although I didn’t sleep any better inside than outside, I feel rested and replete. A movie last evening amused me, though why I enjoyed all that destruction in San Andreas Fault, I haven’t a clue except perhaps that for the first time in five years I am not living a mere ten miles from the fault. And a complimentary breakfast this morning restored me. (Gotta love a waffle shaped like Texas.)
Now I’m about to head south into what I hope will be warmer nights. (It helps that the region is going through a warming trend.)
And if the nights are still too cold, I can always double tent again.
When people would ask me what I will do if it gets cold at night and I’d respond that I’ll put my packpacking tent inside my big tent, they either laughed or stared at me in confusion. Whoever heard of such a thing? But other people subsequently recommended it, and it worked. It was only in the early morning chill that I got too cold for comfort. I also discovered something vital. Those temperature ratings on sleeping bags and camping quilts are the temperature the bags will keep you alive, not comfortable. I still have to work on the comfort factor. Maybe a sheet? I really do not like the feel of nylon. If I put the sheet over top the camping quilt, it might help to hold the warmth in and would feel more comfortable tucked beneath my chin.
I’m still working on quicker and easier ways to set up and tear down camp, still trying to learn the best way to live as normally as I can in my abnormal (but rapidly becoming normal) lifestyle.
I’m also using more of my equipment. I actually got out my little Solo stove the other night to brew a couple of much needed cups of tea, and the stove worked great. I used Heet for the fuel, a secret I’d learned online. Not only did the water boil rapidly, but the fuel didn’t blacken the pot as twigs would have done. Heet is also cheap and easy to pour, and can be used when the burning of twigs and other botanicals is forbidden. (So far I have not camped any place where you can gather wood to burn.)
I have learned a few other things: never pass up a chance to do laundry, and in the sparsely traveled areas, never pass up a chance to get fuel or use the restrooms. (Believe me, if you stop on the side of a seemingly no-traffic road because of a urinary emergency, as soon as it’s too late to do anything about your exposure, there will be a near traffic jam.)
Well, time to get packed and move on down the road. See you in Big Bend National Park.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)