Alaska,  Austria,  Iceland,  We12inspire

Our 5 most memorable camping moments

The blogs I usually enjoy reading most are lists of fellow bloggers, such as the 5 best beaches or the 10 best cities … I’m sure you know what I mean. Something you don’t see a lot, is those kind of lists about camping. So I thought it would be a nice idea to share our most memorable camping moments. Just to give you (a bit of) a laugh and some insights to show you that it’s not always just a pretty picture …
 
At the end of the article you will find a great deal to buy discounted tickets for the Camping Tradeshow that will take place in Utrecht this fall so just scroll all the way down to the end for that!

 

1. Blowing away in Skaftafell NP in Iceland

In case you are considering going camping in Iceland, I have two important pieces of advice for you:

1: do it!
2: make sure to bring a very sturdy tent

During our backpacking trip along the Icelandic south coast back in 2009, we spent a couple of days in Skaftafell National Park. This park is famous for its immense glaciers and its impetuous weather. We had been on the local campsite for a couple of days already when the weather turned from bad into worse… including a pretty fierce wind. No, let me rephrase, a very fierce wind… we were just about to fall asleep when Martijn thought it would be a smart idea to reattach the pegs, just to make sure we’d be safe during the night. It turned out to be a smart idea as within minutes, a real storm raged over the campsite. We heard people scream and once the wind had slowed down, it turned out that the tent of our female neighbours had been completely torn apart. As they were gathering their stuff from all across the campingfield, our other neighbour offered them to sleep in his tent. The wind continued to bug us for the rest of the night and we kept on wondering if our tent would hold. Eventually, it did, and when we woke up the next morning, the wind had stopped and the sky was entirely blue. It turned out we were camping with a view on the largest glacier in Europe. How cool is that?

Nowadays we are still joking about it and when we are encountering another strong wind, we’ll always say “hey babe, did you order that Skaftafell wind for tonight?”

 

camping-skaftafell

 

2. Camping without a tent in Alaska

All the way at the beginning of my “career as a camper”,  I got the chance to travel to Alaska and assistent-guide an outdoor adventure trip. By the end of the trip, the lead guide and I figured it would be nice to spend a night without a tent, all the way into the wild. And so we did … With just a way too cold sleeping bag and tiny sleeping mat, we headed out to Knik Glacier, a place you can only reach by boat. By the end of the evening I found a place to sleep near the beach, far away from the group members, I wanted to spend at least one night all by myself.

 

I rolled out my sleeping mat and laid down, very cold and shivering. But I figured that, if you start something like this, there’s no way backing out of it. It’s not that I had a choice because we’d be picked up by 10.00 am the next morning only, so I still had about 10 hours to spend out there. So there I was, at the foot of an Alaskan glacier, in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Super cold. Within 30 minutes of falling asleep I had to pee. I opened up my sleeping bag and found a place (behind a hill, out of sight, god knows why?) and as I squatted down to do my thing, I figured this was going to be a very long night. But … by the time I was done, I felt so relieved that I had no clue about what was yet to come. As I dived back into my sleepingbag again, I hear a rustle in the bush. OMG – is that a bear?!? I try to fall back asleep every in possible way… on my rightside, on my leftside, on my belly… as the rustling in the bush continues I finally fall asleep again.

 

And within another hour or so I wake up again. AndI have to pee, again. I try to deactive my brain. There is no way I have to pee… really, just not way! I turn to my leftside and again to my rightside… hear another rustle in the bush … I decide to crawl out of my sleepingbag again and make my way back to the hill. Relief all over again when I’m done. As I make my way back to my sleepingbag I decide that I’m never (ever!) drinking tea again at the campfire. Trying that to warm up was just a stupid idea. I fall sleep once more but not a whole lot later I wake up… again!

 

NO! NOT AGAIN! By that time I’m nearly freezing (there’s no way I’m getting warm again in these conditions) and I try to ignore the pressure on my bladder but it’s impossibe. There’s no way I can hold it. I’m enormously irritated and as I’ve gone beyond shame by now, I sit down next to my sleepingbag and let it run. I’m so over and done with this, piss off you stupid Alaskan wilderness! What was it again that I liked about you? By the time I’m figuring that by now there’s just no way there’s anything left inside of me, I fall asleep, totally knackered, freezing and unhappy… until I wake up once more…

 

With a loud bang, a giant chunk of ice breaks off the face of the glacier and plunges into the lake. A small tsunami hits the beach, birds are panicking and the echo of the bang resounds in the mountains. And me … I’m insanely happy. Camping in Alaska’s wilderness turns out to be quite a lot of fun after all…

knik glacier

 

3. Italian Lakes in Scotland

Although you may think differently, Scotland does not only serves rain to its visitors, as we experienced during our early spring two-week roadtrip in 2012. The first week was just rain (as expected) but the second week the weather truly was in our favor. On the way back to the ferry that would bring us home again, we decided to make one last stop at Loch Lomond. We planned on climbing Ben Lomond by sunrise so it would be easy to sleep just around the corner. That evening we put another burger on the BBQ and while enjoying a beer the sun was setting and we felt as if we were camping at one of the Italian lakes. The next morning we woke up early and were the first to reach the top of Ben Lomond in the morning. Back at the campsite, we faced a challenge because it seemed that overnight the little buggers called midgets made their way to the campsite. So within 30 seconds we had unplugged and unhooked the tent, threw it into the car and took off. Where those midgets came from all of a sudden, we have no clue, but we are still looking back at this evening as one of the most memorable ever… in rainy Scotland of all places!

 

camping-scotland

 

4. City-camping in Vienna

The record in pitching up our tent comes from Vienna however. Yes, that’s correct: Vienna. It might not exactly be a place where you’d consider camping, however after doing some research it turned out they have a really good city campsite next to the woods. With the subway you are in downtown Vienna in no-time so we figured this would be a good option to stay for a couple of nights. The night before we had been camping in Nuremberg in Germany and Vienna would be our next stop on our roadtrip through Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, as soon as we reached the Austrian border, it started pouring with rain. Upon arrival at the campsite, the rain was still coming down so we waited an hour, hoping it would get dry to pitch up our tent. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and since we were getting pretty impatient, we decided it was about time to get out of the car and at least try to pitch it up. We unloaded and screamed orders at each other to make the best out of it. A new record: 1 minute and 9 seconds and our tent was up. The result: a huge shitload of water in our tent. The towels we used to wipe it away did not fully dry anymore during the rest of our trip. Camping in Vienna was definitely the best idea ever…

 

camping-vienna

schonnbrunn

 

5. In search of the Gold rush near Brainard Lake

After spending a night backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) we planned to end our journey through this part of the USA in style … by camping. We hoped to find a nice campground near the city of Boulder so we could use the luxury of being near a town while we were camping in the middle of nature. From RMNP we drove to Boulder, passing a small town called Nederland (which is the Dutch name for “Netherlands” -> our home country) but along the way there was no campsite to be found. We didn’t have wifi so we figured we’d head back into the mountains. There was bound to be a campsite around we figured, not realizing we were driving further away from the city each minute. We were at least half an hour away from the city when we still hadn’t found a campsite and we started to get a little worried. The sun was already setting and by then we had no idea where we were. Luckily we soon passed a large SUV with a bunch of locals. They told us to follow them until the settlement of Gold Hill – there we should go left until we’d get to the main road. On this road there would be a campsite.

 

While driving along an unpaved and very dusty road we followed the Americans. We were still worried because our rental car was not insured for driving on unpaved roads but there was not much of a choice than following these guys into the middle of nowhere. Upon arrival in Gold Hill, this turned out the be a first class Gold Rush town – just awesome! Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to stop since the sun was about to set and we were totally lost (note: we don’t use a GPS when driving, just a regular map usually tells us where to go…). Soon after leaving Gold Hill we reached the main road and not much later we found the entrance to the campsite. We figured we’d be there soon enough, but as it turned out, it was still about half an hour on the dirtroad … by then it was completely dark and we thought we’d never reach civilization again. Fortunately, after about 30 minutes from the main road, we arrived at the site and quickly met some locals who came here from Denver every weekend to escape the busy life.

 

The next morning we still had  time for a short walk through the area, when it turned out we had actually arrived at a true gem: right behind the campsite was a beautiful lake with a view into the Rocky Mountains. Upon the way back to the main road, we noticed it quickly … “Hey – isn’t this just the main road from Nederland to Boulder?”

 

brainard-lake-campsite-lake

colorado-collage

 

Even though those stories may make you believe otherwise, camping is not just a piece of crap. Fellow camping lovers will definitely agree that camping is awesome and that it’s not just being cold and uncomfortable. For us, camping is not just about being in nature, but also about connecting with like-minded travelers and waking up in complete silence. Is there anything else you could wish for?

 

I could easily mention at least another 10 anecdotes however I’ll keep those for future posts. Don’t stop reading yet though because we had a really great offer for our Dutch and Belgian readers! From 7-11 October the annual  Kampeer & Caravan Jaarbeurs 2015 will be held in Utrecht. Here you will be able to meet fellow campers, test the newest tents and RV’s and find all you need for your next camping trip. If you use the link above, you will get a discount on your tickets!

 

Want to read more? You may enjoy these:
– The best (half) day hikes in the USA & Canada 
– Confessions of a hiking travel blogger
– Camping in New Zealand … with sandflies!

 

Thank you for sharing!

 

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

21 Comments

  • Kim-Ling

    These stories are great! I’m not normally the camping type, however there is this one place in New South Wales (Australia) that we try to get to every year which is absolute paradise. Sometimes camping is just the best escape (especially when it’s by the beach!)

    • anto

      Thanks Kim-Ling! I can totally see how camping at the beach in NSW would be awesome – I’ve been there long ago and although I didn’t go camping, I’ll definitely do that when I come back!

  • Mar

    Impressive the Alaskan part, you are brave! Nature is beautiful and unpredictable and then, suddenly, it surprises you with a stunning memory. I should camp more

  • Tami

    Love your camping stories…they are something I can totally relate to. I have camped when it was below freezing and I also had to go to the bathroom all night (did you know you always need to go more often when you’re cold?). I have also camped in fierce winds so noisy they kept us awake the entire night. I’ve also been in a tent when it nearly got blown over and collapsed on me, and I once camped in a tent that was so airtight, I nearly smothered to death! If it weren’t for my dog panting for breath, I might not be here today to wite about it.

    • anto

      Thanks Tami! I always need to go to the bathroom more often when it’s cold, somehow. Luckily I finally invested in a really good/warm sleeping bag a couple of years ago so I’m hardly ever really cold anymore. That’s scary though, glad to hear your dog saved you!

  • Erica

    What an adventure you guys have! Your stories are incredible and very inspiring. I don’t think I’m brave enough to pull off camping without a tent though.

  • Jen

    Scotland! Yep those midges are mean! Friends who live on the West Coast had to move house because of them! East Coast better 🙂

  • Monica

    I love camping and I really enjoy sleeping in the tent, but only if it’s not too cold. I’ve tried camping in arounds zero Celcius temperatures and it’s definitely not my cup of tea, but I guess I might sacrifice for the photos 🙂

  • Kathrin

    The last time I went camping was about 5 years ago I guess? It was at Chiemsee (this is a freshwater lake in Bavaria, Germany).. After looking at your pictures and reading the article, I definitley should start again! The photo of Alaska is just amazing.

  • Heather Widmer

    Haha, you’ve captured some excellent stories on your camping adventures! I love the variety in the places you visit, from the remote to camping in cities! I love camping as well and can definitely relate to setting up a tent during a storm. It seems like it never dries!

    • anto

      Thanks Heather! Nope, sometimes indeed it feels like it never dries, esp. when it’s cold. Those are the less fun parts of camping but at least you know the comfort of your sleeping mat and your sleepingbag rather than a bed that is horrible 😉

  • LeAnna

    These are great!! We absolutely LOVE camping and are actually heading to Iceland next month…I think I’ll skip the windstorm though! We’ve found camping MUCH different here in Europe than stateside, I miss the back country aspect of camping, but either way, it is great to get away from the crowds and into nature!

  • Dawn Kealing

    Wow, camping in Alaska sounds pretty crazy, better have a cuddle buddy to keep you warm! Once you sleep without a tent you come to realize how much a tent gives a sense of security, as well a wind barrier, haha. I’d probably have the exact same experience. Nervous bladder. 😛

  • Jenna

    Lol, love these stories! Camping can definitely be an adventure–we always enjoy it, too, even when something goes wrong! Staying completely outside in Alaska sounds amazing (except for the bathroom part, haha!)–I would love to do that sometime. And that’s funny you ended up back by the road in Nederland! We were just there last winter to ski nearby–such a pretty area!!

    • anto

      Thanks Jenna! There is always bound to go something wrong when camping and it makes much more fun, especially afterwards. So cool you made it to Nederland!

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