glamping- (v) to camp glamorously. “Did you see their portable projector and tent disco ball? They are straight up glamping.”
Out here in the wilderness, life changes. Perspectives change and people learn what they need to survive and what they can go without. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up every comfort from home and live off of trail mix for 6 months. Enter: Glamping. Glamping is about enjoying the finer things in life while living in the woods. Every person has their own ideas about what it means to glamp, and I’ve seen some amazing instances of glamping in the trail. Here are some of my favorites, feel free to use these ideas to better your next woodland experience.
- Fresh Food
Tom and Huck had an amazing setup when I met them on our last night in the Smokies. They had appetizers of crackers and cheese and then sautéed kale, onions, and garlic in their frying pan (a full size frying pan!). In the morning, as seen in the picture above, they made chocolate chip pancakes while everyone else in the shelter stood around drooling and sadly pushing around mushy oatmeal. I cooked my pasta side next to Huck and I thought he was section hiker due to the amount of fresh food he and Tom were carrying. He assured me they were thru hiking and told me that just because we’re living in the woods doesn’t mean we can’t eat well. Props to Tom and Huck. According to them, kale can last about 3-4 days on the trail.
- Pack Out Luxurie
One way to ensure your first few nights back on the trail are enjoyable is to pack out some of your favorite things. For example, you could pack out local artisan cheese and a carton of wine to sip on while enjoying a lovely mountain view. This is especially helpful and comforting if you’ve had a day of failures and don’t feel much like a lady of the mountains.
- Be Inventive
If you’re thinking that this post is primarily about food, you are right. Food is a constant struggle on the trail. Hikers are always hungry, but it can be difficult to get variety, nutrition, flavor, and calories all in one meal. Cravings aren’t easily satisfied, so comfort requires creativity. In the Smokies one of my friends invented the Smoreo, and with peanut butter chocolate Oreos and a bag of marshmallows we became very happy hikers.
- Make Additions
As with invention, creativity is critical to simple meals. It’s easy to get sick of oatmeal and pasta sides after a week, so make sure to spice it up. One of my favorite meals so far was a broccoli and cheese noodle pasta side with instant milk, olive oil, chunks of cheddar cheese, and sun dried tomatoes. Another easy fix is to add instant mashed potatoes to whatever you’re cooking. Oatmeal always tastes better with cinnamon, honey, dried fruits, and nut butter. I’ve seen some great spice kits out here and some drool worthy camp meals.
Whether you lack the resources or are simply too lazy to gather them, improvisation can save the day. No dry wood for a camp fire? Make a fake fire! Water bottle lanterns won’t provide any heat, but they add quite a bit of ambiance to post-hike hangouts.
- Plug In
Some people come to the trail to escape and want to unplug entirely. I’ve met people who aren’t even carrying cell phones. I’ve met others who carry just about every form of technology imaginable. If you read every night, go ahead and carry your kindle. Download books and movies and podcasts in towns. One of my friends has yet to miss a single episode of Game of Thrones. I heard about another guy carrying his laptop because “chicks dig watching movies in shelters.”
- Indulge in Hygiene
As a general rule, hikers smell pretty rank, but that doesn’t have to be the case. I showered in a waterfall the other day and it was invigorating. Washing (or at least rinsing) your sweaty clothes in rushing water (but not a drinking source!) is equally exciting. There’s a guy on the trail who fills up about 10 liters of water every night so he can shower. I met a girl who washed her feet every night with rosemary and lavender infused alcohol and she made the musty old shelter smell like springtime breeze. Some people carry deodorant for towns, or have bounce boxes of real shampoo and conditioner. Even the simple act of wiping away the surface layer of sweat and grime every night with a wet wipe can make a world of difference in terms of comfort for you and your fellow hikers.
- Maintain Standards
Don’t think that living in the woods means you have to give up your luxuries. If you have a mocha latte every morning, go ahead and have them on the trail. Second only to pooping in a clean privy with a door, my favorite part of the morning is a hot cup of coffee with hot chocolate and cinnamon. Instant coffee packets pair well with Carnation Breakfast Essentials too, this morning I had a vanilla cappuccino full of vitamins and nutrients.
- Do as Little Work as Possible
If you can avoid dirtying your pot, do. Cook your oatmeal in the packet. Mix your coffee in a Gatorade bottle. Reuse Mountain House dinner packets to steam cook your pasta sides. The less work you have to do, the more time you have to relax. Or hike, if that’s what you’re in to.
- Take Time
One of the best parts about the AT experience is that you don’t have to follow any schedule but your own. Sure there’s the whole “get to Katahdin by October 15th” thing, but otherwise we’re free as birds. So take the time to breathe the fresh air, enjoy the magnificent views, soak up the sun (when you’re lucky enough to see it) by a waterfall or on a bald. Kick your feet up and enjoy the simplicity of your life.
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