Winter camping looks a little bit like this: Post-holing your way to a fresh site under the trees, digging out a space for the tent and unrolling fluffy sleeping bags to create a cozy spot to sleep; the sun going down around 5 p.m., the challenge becoming how to wear gloves and still shuffle a deck of cards; boiling hot water for coffee, steam billowing into the open flap of the tent and the scent of ground coffee beans mixing with the snow and pine.
It can also go like this: Loading as many friends and as much gear as possible into the car, then driving out to an old favorite spot in the desert; setting up tents and organizing gear; cracking open a beer or two and talking about tomorrow's climbing routes; starting a fire early so the embers are hot and ready for everybody to toss in their personalized foil-pack of hobo stew.
At the end of January, our camping experience was spending quiet evenings beside the outline of the Sierra Mountains, with clear skies overhead and a comfortable stillness around; finding the North Star and looking for familiar constellations; lounging in camp chairs with glasses of wine and the conversation drifting in the direction of the next trip.
It gave us the opportunity to focus. We went to one of our favorite lesser-known California camping spots and enjoyed the quietness of it all, taking the time to refocus our energy and attention, eating far too much bread and staring up at the skies at night, feeling small and grateful for the time under those stars. I know that in a few years, this place is going to be the next Joshua Tree, but for now, I’m thankful for the few of us who consider this a sacred place.When winter weather settles in, the opportunity comes to really get away. If that getaway includes camping, you’re bound to find some inspiring folks along your route. You’ll run into the die-hards: the cross-country skier with his snow-loving golden retriever or the cold weather climbers with their half frozen fingers. Traveling in winter often allows for more solitude, separating ourselves from life-as-usual to find connection with the stillness.
And don’t we all love the rewards and challenges that come with any adventure? Putting our insulated containers into the snow to keep our yogurt cold until breakfast – reward! Finding the road washed out at mile 46 – challenge!
We count ourselves lucky to have been able to spend so much time getting to know the beauty around us, finding space in our life to camp together, facing challenges and celebrating rewards together and with the company of friends. I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than in sharing stories and going to bed knowing that I’ll wake up outside.
Nick and Laura Ocean are a couple of artist-adventure seekers driving their truck and pop-up camper off the beaten path, down those forest service roads that lead into the woods, up the mountains and next to rivers. You can read their blog, The Longest Hello, here.