Thursday, May 26, 2011
Camping in the Sky
There are endless ways to escape. Into a good book, into a museum, into romance. Sometimes, though, it feels good just to get away. It's often the case that escape is best when done in the lap of luxury - a hotel stay (terrycloth robes and slippers), lounging poolside (drink in hand, red nail polish on toes), dinner reservations booked (or room service, depending on how decadent you really want to be). After a long work week/month/year, how could this not appeal?
But what if luxury's not what you're after? Escape can be synonymous with "being at one with nature" or "off the grid" or even "getting your hands a little dirty." To accomplish such ways of being, it's time to head straight into the woods for the classic, old-fashioned camping trip. Now, booking a campsite isn't as challenging as, say, getting a reservation at Per Se, but it's definitely something to plan in advance - especially with summer approaching, these sites get swooped up fast!
So, a few months ago when I got wind of Half Dome reservations selling out in a matter of minutes, I got serious in regards to my future with camping. After weighing my options, I decided on Point Reyes National Seashore, for a weekend in the woods. Luckily, Sky Camp had a few spots left. Low and behold, last weekend my friend Sarah and I found ourselves in the magical heart of the seashore. Of course, we couldn't venture out into the wild without first demolishing a hearty breakfast at the Pine Cone Diner in Point Reyes Station:
After picking up our permit, we were Sky bound! Our hike to the campsite was just over a mile and a half. It doesn't take long to feel distant from civilization. The trail is quiet, innocent and open - a mirror of sorts, reflecting the clean slate that's always inside of us. An open road that's available to us, so long as we don't take advantage of it. Suddenly, upon the trail, the car getting smaller and smaller, you get the overarching sense that the world you left behind is happening without you - and that's just fine.
Once we made it to Sky Camp (site #5), we promptly set up our home away from home: the Tadpole.
p.s. easiest 2-person back-packing tent to set-up ever. It's North Face, in case you're interested...and R.E.I. is currently having their biggest sale of the year...
Our site was just up that little trail, nestled among the trees on the right. Cozy! It's so easy to feel at home among the flowers and the trees.
Lush and green, Point Reyes was still blooming with bright colors and earthy life.
We very quickly set off for our day hike to the beach. There and back it was about 9 miles, because we took a little detour (veering from the trail). Getting lost is part of the fun though - and to be honest, how lost can you get when the ocean's on your west. We meandered, gladly.
Lost and found!
This tree spoke to both of us as we approached the seashore, where we would read books, eat sandwiches and collect rocks. Oh, and yes, get caught in a sand storm. Note: my copy of Mary Karr's Cherry still has sand in its crevices - so much so that I can't really read it in bed these days. It's more of a lunch time read...
While we both admitted a somewhat sense of dread for the hike back (we hiked "down" to the beach, so you get the idea...), we both agreed that the hike back was faster and easier. Possibly it was the dreaminess of that magic hour, when the sun starts to bow out - making everything glisten.
On trails, I'm all eyes down - checking for slithering critters (a certain reptile I'm not so found of - and, yes, there was a sighting). Considering my focus on what surrounds my feet, I have to make a concerted effort to look ahead, above and around every once in a while. During one of those moments, I tilted my head back to discover the most beautiful tree formation in the sky. It's incredible to think they're always like that, the trees - with only slight variations throughout the day. I thought of this as they slowly swayed into each other. Strong willed, but free to let loose - those trees.
A long day's journey into night. Pleasantly spent from our day of almost 10 miles of hiking, we ate an early dinner, played some gin rummy and watched a foggy sunset. We were in the tadpole before it was dark, because nothing could keep us from the coziness of reading our books (and maybe the latest Bon Appétit starring Gwyneth Paltrow :) in our sleeping bags.
Waking up to the sound of birds is better than an alarm clock - I'm just saying. Sunday morning it was time for us to venture home, which, though sad, is part of the deal. Unless you want to commit to life as a mountain woman (which I have no plans to do - I just love "Modern Family" way too much) one must return to that real world. Because, truly, that world is awaiting my return - and that feels good.
Soaking in my favorite tree...
The meadows are non-stop, except for when we stop in our tracks to gaze upon them.
While enjoying our lovely hike back to the car (nostalgia setting in), we talked quite a bit about what we'd be doing next. I always feel like the easiest way to transition out of a trip is to plan exciting things for when you get back. First on the list? A quick trip back to Point Reyes Station to visit the Bovine Bakery for a morning bun and a muffin.
A perfect way to end the perfect weekend!
Camping in Point Reyes was just what I needed to see in the summer. When you camp, you're supposed to leave no trace. Luckily, it's not the other way around. My escape into nature has stayed with me throughout the week - and I'm hoping that it never leaves. Nature, nature, please oh please, leave your trace with me.
***By the way: check out my guest post on the blog Simple Lovely! Joslyn invited me to do a blogger's favorites and it went up today. Thanks for the loveliness, Jos. xo