Our campsite, situated alongside a babbling stream, under a family of enormous trees, feels like home, and we’ve only just arrived.
I’ve been thinking about how comfortable I feel camping, something that was recently completely out of my comfort zone.
To be honest, it was halfway through the planning of our trip I realized I’d never been camping before. Not real camping anyway.
As kids, my friends and I set up a tent on my back porch, but of course if we needed anything, like a bathroom, a scoop of ice cream or an extra blanket because 60 degrees was too cold, we’d simply run inside.
The thought of “real camping,” like what we’re doing now, both excited and scared me.
Even though we did a great job preparing for this trip, shopping REI garage sales, stocking our packs with GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) and making sure we had sturdy equipment for outdoor living, I still felt uneasy, nervous and a bit uncomfortable.
It wasn't quite back-country camping, but a good introduction to the world of camping.
As the responsible new camper I was, I read every sign/pamphlet/informational brochure the park offered before nightfall. This was a bit like checking WebMD for the possible diagnosis of a simple headache.
While I completely support educating yourself as much as possible about nature, your campgrounds and the wildlife that lives near your site, I learned far too much about the dangers of bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and javelinas.
I slept with one eye open that night, and I was determined not to leave the tent under any circumstances, as I might encounter a family of mountain lions on the way to the commode.
I’m not exactly sure how many hours I slept that evening, but miraculously a mountain lion or bear did not attack or raid our camp, nor have we been attacked the last 14 nights of tent camping.
Actually, we haven’t yet seen a mountain lion or bear.
Instead, we’re seeing unbelievable night skies, hearing coyotes wail in far-off distances, watching majestic elk walk through our campsite and waking up to sweet sounds of birds chirping with each sunrise.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a risk. The reward has been more than I could’ve imagined. If I’d never gone camping, I’d be missing out on some of the most beautiful sights. This planet really is spectacular.
Discovering we’re capable of something we thought impossible is both gratifying and exciting. There’s no better way to make such a discovery than to step out of our comfort zone once in a while.
For me, trying new things and leaning into the discomfort that accompanies new territory, has proven successful.
These experiences have only helped pave the way as I journey north.
As you follow your north, take on new challenges from time to time. You'll discover you’re stronger than you think.