Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bay Area Bucket List: Camping!

Camping was the first away together Ed and I took, a mere 3 weeks into our relationship, and ever since has been an activity we've really enjoyed together. Unfortunately, between chilly bay area weather for much of the year, and very busy schedules, our last camping trip was a few weeks before we got married (i.e. 2 years ago!).

So, back in February, Ed and I decided to squeeze in this trip right after the end of my school year and before his graduation. We thought there was a chance we'd be moving the weekend following graduation (so, so glad this isn't the case) so this seemed like the best time to go.

In reality? It was great to escape and have a strong divide between work and summer. It was a little stressful coming back into an incredibly swamped schedule, but it was still worth it.

Our campsite was lovely, in our very own redwood grove, with creek views. When we arrived at 11, our site was already open, which was excellent luck! We were able to munch on some sandwiches, chips and beer at our picnic table before we went on our adventure.

Adventure, you ask? Ed had planned a loop hike/run for us. When first asked, he said 9 miles. Asked again, it became 10. I finally looked at the description myself and saw that the loop was actually 10.6.

While I wasn't overtly confident about my ability to tackle this, since we're going 30ish miles of backpacking next week, I figured that I should give it a shot. It was a hot muggy start (at 12:30), but we were entertained by the trail, and the fun salmon crossing (though no salmon).

The hardest part by far was the almost 2 miles of relentless uphill. We had the directions with us and they stated that this uphill "feels like it will never end." The directions were pretty accurate, and I may have debated turning around at a few points. But, I (we) made it :).

The views of the Olema Valley certainly made me glad we'd continued. 

For miles, we ran through these open fields. It was so special to be someplace new, yet with that quintessential bay area feel.

On our way down, we ran into a new friend:

Funnily enough, given all my phobias, I was really quite excited to see this big guy, who was about 3 feet long. It wasn't coiled and the head shape made me fairly certain it wasn't a rattle snake. Nonetheless, we still gave it some space as we went around :)

Before we knew it, we were on the final push and finally arrived back to our campsite, where we enjoyed another beer, some chips, and relaxation.

Before we got too lazy, we headed out to Point Reyes Station, to pick up a birthday present for my dad - some Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.

We figured we might as well get something for ourselves while we were there.

Then, back to camp, where we sat by the creek, reading, and just enjoying being out in nature.

Starting our fire was surprisingly easy and, as it seemed to be getting cold quickly, it seemed like a good idea.

We stuck with our tradition of bringing some chili and cornbread for dinner, which we heated on the propane stove and which perfectly hit the spot.

After dinner? We of course had to have smores. Now, we didn't have graham crackers, so Ed thought it made the most sense to use the chocolate as the sandwich.

Verdict? A bit too chocolatey, if that's possible. I mostly stuck with straight marshmallows, which were amazing. 

Later that night, we sat in the dark around the fire, chatting and enjoying the warmth. At one moment, Ed noticed that someone seemed to be snacking on our chips. He was momentarily confused, since he could see I wasn't eating them, until I heard it too, looked to Ed, and saw the eyes illuminated by my headlamp. My scream scared that little raccoon away, though not far. It was a bold guy!

The rest of our evening was pretty low key. It was also low temperature! Suffice to say, I discovered that my sleeping bag was great for indoor adventures, but not nearly tough enough for cool evening camping. I will definitely be bringing a warmer one for our backpacking.

The next morning, Ed headed out early for a run while I stayed at camp, tried to get a good fire going, and enjoyed relaxing some more.

Before we knew it, it was time to go and jump back into real life craziness. We took one final detour down by the stream to soak in the peacefulness for a few more minutes.

With a much more relaxed frame of mind, we headed back home to face the stress and excitement of our final 2 weeks in the bay area.

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