No Campfires, Long Night

No Campfire, No Problem; Terrace Creek CampTerraceCamping

Most of the Los Padres  has now received between 0.5 and 3 inches of rain this season.  We’re getting a fairly consistent flow of small storms, especially in the northern LP, but have not gotten the big rains that most of us are looking for.  Knock, knock – it’s still early.  The Forest Service normally doesn’t lift the fire restrictions until most of the Forest gets at least 2 inches of rain, so we’re still a ways out from having campfires in the backcountry.  The LPFA receives quite a few questions from backpackers and campers who don’t seem to know what to do if they can’t have a fire.  “How can I camp without a campfire?”  Well, here are a few suggestions:

Stay Warm
– The sun goes down around 5 these days and as a result you’ll be in the cold/dark more than ever.
– Bring an extra jacket, some fleece pants, gloves and a really good beanie.
– If you don’t want to climb into your bag at sunset, the best protection is some extra layers to stay warm.
– It’s also a good idea to use a tent.  Tents provide additional warmth and a nice place to hang out if you can’t be next to a fire.

– When facing nearly 14 hours of dark, be sure you have a fresh headlamp and extra batteries.
– In addition, you might want to bring a lantern or some light source to create the environment of your choice (Christmas lights, disco ball, etc….).
– There are quite a few light light options these days that can make you forget about your trusted campfire and not break your back packing them in.  REI is a great place to start.

Have Fun
– Nothing beats lack of campfire better than some good old entertainment.
– Depending on what floats your boat, you could bring in some music, a guitar or even watch a movie on your iPad.
– Games are always fun.  Some camp favorites include Yahtzee, LCR, charades, UNO and of course the mandatory deck of cards.
– What is better than telling ghost stories?  Nothing.
– Just remember to be courteous to other campers, your fun could become their nightmare.

Be Active
– Things go bump in the night, perhaps you should investigate?
– Rather than hitting the hay, bundle up and take a short walk away from camp and sit next to the creek or stare at the stars.  Always a special treat!
– If you are camping with a group, tour other people’s tents.  A sure fire way to chew up the time and you might learn some gear tips along the way.

Eat & Drink
– The best way to eat up the hours is to eat during the night hours.  Rather than cooking when its light, save the cooking for the dark.
– With plenty of time on your hands, you can use the stove to get really creative.
– Try that complicated recipe you heard about in Backpacker Magazine.  Go for it!
– Who says you can’t eat s’mores without a campfire?  What’s wrong with the stove?
– And nothing warms the insides more than a sip or two of your favorite evening drink; hot chocolate or tea, of course.

– How often do you get 14 hrs to yourself with nothing to do?
– Take advantage of the long night and write in a journal or read your favorite book.
– You could just sit there and listen for animals.  Without the glare of a campfire and smell of smoke, your odds of hearing critters will go way up.
– Once back at work/life you’ll be wishing you had that extra time to relax and do exactly what you wanted to do.

– If you can’t beat it, join it!
– Everyday life has a way of depriving you of sleep, am I wrong?  This is a great way to take the sleep back.
– Try to squeeze in every minute of sleep you can.

The moral of the story is that there are plenty of things to do in order to make camping fun without a campfire.  Get out there, make it to your favorite camp, be creative and have fun.  If you have any great ideas that were not covered here, we’d love to hear them too……..

Los Padres High Country Fullmoon Frisbee, photo Ziegler